The impact of changes in COVID‐19 lockdown restrictions on alcohol consumption and drinking occasion characteristics in Scotland and England in 2020: An interrupted time‐series analysis

Iain Hardie, Abigail K. Stevely, Alessandro Sasso, Petra S. Meier, John Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background and Aims
Early evidence suggests that COVID-19 lockdown restrictions affect alcohol consumption. However, existing studies lack data on how drinking practices changed as restrictions disrupted people’s work, family life and socializing routines. We examined changes in consumption and drinking occasion characteristics during three periods of changing restrictions in Scotland/England.

Design
Interrupted time-series analysis of repeat cross-sectional market research data (assessing step-level changes).

Setting
Scotland/England, January 2009–December 2020.

Participants
Scotland: 41 507 adult drinkers; England: 253 148 adult drinkers.

Measurements
Three intervention points: March 2020 lockdown, July 2020 easing of restrictions and October 2020 re-introduction of some restrictions. Primary outcome: mean units consumed per week (total/off-trade/on-trade; 1 unit = 8 g ethanol). Secondary outcomes: drinking > 14 units per week, heavy drinking, drinking days per week, solitary drinking, drinking with family/partners, drinking with friends/colleagues, own-home drinking, drinking in someone else’s home and drinking start times.

Findings
In Scotland, March 2020’s lockdown was associated with a 2.32 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.61, 4.02] increase in off-trade (i.e. shop-bought) units per week, a −2.84 (95% CI = −3.63, −2.06) decrease in on-trade (i.e. licensed venues) units per week, but no statistically significant change in total units per week. July 2020’s easing of restrictions was associated with a 1.33 (95% CI = 0.05, 2.62) increase in on-trade units per week, but no statistically significant total/off-trade consumption changes. October 2020’s re-introduction of some restrictions was not associated with statistically significant consumption changes. Results for England were broadly similar. Lockdown restrictions were also associated with later drinking start times, fewer occasions in someone else’s home and with friends/colleagues, more own-home drinking and (in Scotland only) more solitary drinking.

Conclusions
Reductions in on-trade alcohol consumption following COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in Scotland/England in 2020 were mainly offset by increased own-home drinking. This largely persisted in periods of greater/lesser restrictions. The shift towards off-trade drinking involved significant changes in the characteristics of drinking occasions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1622-1639
JournalAddiction
Volume117
Issue number6
Early online date2 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • alcohol consumption
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • drinking occasion characteristics
  • nterrupted timeseries analysis
  • lockdown restrictions
  • policy analysis

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of changes in COVID‐19 lockdown restrictions on alcohol consumption and drinking occasion characteristics in Scotland and England in 2020: An interrupted time‐series analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this