Understanding alcohol consumption in student participants of the night time economy: a three-wave longitudinal study


  • M. Tarrant
  • J. Smith
  • S. Ball
  • C. Winlove
  • N. Charles
  • S. Gul
  • C. Abraham


Background: The UK night time economy generates around £66 billion annually and, with many club venues offering dedicated “student nightsâ€, is a focal point for university students’ alcohol consumption. We investigated patterns of students’ alcohol consumption across an academic year and considered how these are shaped by their wider beliefs about the night time economy. Methods: A three-wave longitudinal survey was conducted involving student club-goers in the UK (total N=1,372; mean age=20.5 years). At each wave, participants reported their beliefs about club culture, including their identification with it and motivations for clubbing, and their alcohol consumption patterns using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Findings: 42% percent of participants (males=39%; females=44%) reported drinking alcohol at levels deemed to be lowest risk (AUDIT scores<8). Similar numbers (males=38%; females=42%) reported consumption levels that were hazardous, and 23% of males and 14% of females drank at levels considered high risk or indicative of possible alcohol dependence. Year-end alcohol consumption increased with increased consumption at the start of the academic year (estimated effect 0.61, 95% CI 0.54-0.69, p<0.001), as well as with increased social identification “as a clubber†scores (estimated effect 0.63, 95% CI 0.11-1.14, p=.017). Year-end consumption also increased with stronger motivations to participate in the night time economy for intoxication purposes (estimated effect 0.89, CI 0.22-1.55, p=.009). Discussion: Interventions to tackle excessive alcohol consumption should address intra-individual factors that shape consumption, but also must consider wider socially-shared beliefs about the night time economy that serve to sustain this.





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