New national alcohol guidelines in the UK: public awareness, understanding and behavioural intentions

Gillian Rosenberg, Linda Bauld, Lucie Hooper, Penny Buykx, John Holmes, Jyotsna Vohra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background  Alcohol consumption places a significant burden on the NHS and is an important risk factor for cancer, associated with 12 800 UK cases/year. New alcohol guidelines were published in 2016, taking into account the increasing evidence of the health harms of alcohol.  Methods  A survey of the UK drinker population (n= 972) was conducted 1 week before and 1 month after the release of the guidelines to capture drinking habits, guideline awareness and intended behaviour change.  Results  Overall, 71% were aware of the new alcohol guidelines, however, just 8% knew what the recommended limits were. Higher socioeconomic groups were more likely to know these limits (ABC1 = 9% versus C2DE = 4%,P= 0.009). Participants who recognized the message that alcohol causes cancer were more likely to correctly identify the new guidelines (message recognition = 12% versus no recognition = 6%,P= 0.004); and were more likely to self-report an intention to reduce their alcohol consumption (message recognition = 10% versus no recognition = 6%,P= 0.01).  Conclusion  The majority of the population knew the guidelines had been updated, however, communication of the new limits needs to be improved. Raising awareness of the links between alcohol and cancer may improve understanding of alcohol guidelines and could prompt behaviour change for those motivated to reduce their alcohol consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-556
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Public Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • alcohol consumption
  • cancer
  • socioeconomic factors


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