Patterns of alcohol drinking in a population of young social drinkers: a comparison of questionnaire and diary measures

Townshend, Julia and Duka, Theodora (2002) Patterns of alcohol drinking in a population of young social drinkers: a comparison of questionnaire and diary measures. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 37 (2). pp. 187-92. ISSN 1464-3502

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Studies of alcohol use often depend on self-reported alcohol intake measured by quantity/frequency questionnaires. Previous research has shown that alcohol consumption may be underestimated by this type of retrospective questionnaire. The primary aim of this study was to compare the accuracy of an Alcohol Use Questionnaire (AUQ) with a 4-week diary account. A further aim was to explore patterns of drinking in young social drinkers, with particular attention to binge drinking, which has been suggested as a factor in increasing the risk of alcohol dependency. University students completed the AUQ in the laboratory. They were then asked to keep a record of their alcohol, nicotine and caffeine consumption over a 4-week period (diary). The questionnaire and the diaries were compared on factors of alcohol intake (units per week) and patterns of drinking behaviour (speed of drinking, number of times being drunk and percentage of times getting drunk when drinking). The two measures (AUQ and diary) were highly correlated on alcohol consumption and the other questions relating to drinking behaviour. However, differences were found between the two measures on alcohol intake, speed of drinking (drinks per hour) and number of times being drunk. Alcohol consumption was underestimated by ~12% on the questionnaire, and, when the accuracy of estimation of drinking habits was examined, it was found that high drinkers tended to underestimate their drinking behaviour, whereas lower drinkers tended to overestimate. The results suggest that the AUQ can be used with a reasonable degree of confidence, bearing in mind the tendency for high drinkers to underestimate consumption and drinking behaviour. Relationships between ‘binge scores’, beverage specificity and alcohol consumption support the idea that the criteria for binge drinkers should be based on patterns of drinking rather than alcohol consumption.

Item Type: Article
Identifier: 10.1093/alcalc/37.2.187
Keywords: Young people; Binge drinking; Social drinking; Alcohol Use questionnaire (AUQ); Diary account
Subjects: Psychology > Substance abuse/misuse
Depositing User: Rod Pow
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2012 09:35
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2024 15:39

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