261182 Low-risk drinking: Perceptions and practices

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 10:30 AM - 10:50 AM

Ashley Wettlaufer, MA, BSc , Social and Epidemiological Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON, Canada
Samantha Cukier, MBA, MA , Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Norman Giesbrecht, PhD , Social & Epidemiological Research Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON, Canada
Thomas Greenfield, PhD , Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, Emeryville, CA
Objective: This presentation will provide a brief overview of health-oriented low-risk drinking guidelines (LRDG) and popular drinking advice for social occasions. These health and socially oriented guidelines will be compared to perceptions of low-risk drinking levels and actual drinking levels among general populations of Canadians, Americans and Australians. Methods: This presentation draws on existing research and survey data from Canada, the U.S. and Australia. The focus is on recent information and perceptions of LRDGs and social drinking indicators across these three regions. Results: Extensive epidemiological research indicating the associations between drinking pattern and risk for chronic disease and trauma as well as potential health benefits from drinking small amounts regularly is one resource for government or medically-sanctioned LRDGs in many jurisdictions. In contrast, information is available from the hospitality industry, alcohol retailers and liquor control boards. While some overlap exists between these two sources of information, in some contexts normative recommendations support drinking at potentially dangerous levels. Survey data indicate that there is little knowledge of what constitutes low-risk drinking and a substantial portion of individuals continue to drink above the LRDGs. Conclusions: The inconsistency among the different types of guidelines sends a confusing public health message. This highlights one of the challenges of conveying health information on a drug that is integrated into social life and used extensively. It also reflects a siloed approach to alcohol policy where retailing and harm reduction practices are managed by different sectors of government that seldom reflect a coordinated response.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1) Differentiate between health-oriented low-risk drinking guidelines (LRDG) and popular drinking advice for social occasions. 2) Describe how social and health-oriented drinking guidelines compare with actual low-risk drinking perceptions and practices.

Keywords: Alcohol Use, Public Health Education and Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I, along with the other authors, collected and analyzed the archival data on which this presentation is based. I have recently authored and published papers on low-risk drinking and am extensively familiar with the topic. I have presented this and other studies at conferences in the past. My research interests include reducing harm from alcohol use.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.