Exploring the influence of local alcohol availability on drinking norms and practices: A qualitative scoping review

Elena D. Dimova, Peter Lekkas, Karen Maxwell, Tom L. Clemens, Jamie R. Pearce, Richard Mitchell, Carol Emslie, Niamh K. Shortt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

High alcohol availability is related to increased alcohol consumption and harms. Existing quantitative research provides potential explanations for this relationship but there is little understanding of how people experience local alcohol availability. This is the first review to synthesise qualitative research exploring the relationship between alcohol availability and other factors in local alcohol environments.

The scoping review includes qualitative studies exploring community-level alcohol availability and other factors, facilitating the purchase and consumption of alcohol. We included studies focusing on children and adolescents as well as adults. Study findings were brought together using thematic analysis and the socio-environmental context model, which explains how certain environments may facilitate drinking.

The review includes 34 articles. The majority of studies were conducted since 2012. Most studies were conducted in the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa. The physical availability of alcohol and proximity to local amenities and temporal aspects, like late night opening hours, may be linked to social factors, such as normalisation of drinking and permissive drinking environments. The review highlights the importance of social and cultural factors in shaping interactions with local alcohol environments.

Discussion and Conclusion
This qualitative scoping review advances understanding of the pathways linking alcohol availability and alcohol harms by showing that availability, accessibility and visibility of alcohol may contribute towards permissive drinking environments. Further research is needed to better understand how people experience alcohol availability in their local environment and how this can inform alcohol control policies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-703
JournalDrug and alcohol review
Early online date19 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • alcohol
  • environmental public health
  • qualitative scoping review


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