Benefits of social non-drinking identified by British university students: a mixed methods study


  • D. Conroy
  • R. de Visser


Background: Promoting the benefits of not drinking alcohol during social occasions where peers may be drinking (‘social non-drinking’) may support more moderate drinking among young people. This mixed methods paper addresses two research questions: (1) “what benefits of social non-drinking are identified among young people?†and (2) “is endorsing a particular category of benefit of social non-drinking associated with drinking behaviour or drinking beliefs?â€. Methods: Analyses were conducted on an existing dataset drawn from an intervention study intended to encourage moderate drinking among students. Free text responses were acquired from 534 young people aged 18-25 years old who routinely drink concerning benefits of social non-drinking alongside measures of recent drinking behaviour and psychological predictors of harmful drinking. Data were subjected to template analysis to identify potential benefits of social non-drinking. Links between endorsed overarching categories of benefit of social non-drinking and psychological predictors of harmful drinking were assessed quantitatively. Findings: Template analysis revealed four overarching thematic categories of endorsed benefits of social non-drinking: (a) gaining improved physical and psychological health; (b) feeling more positive about who you are; (c) having stronger friendships and peer relationships; and (d) having enhanced ability to invest in future goals. Quantitative analysis suggested that, among men only, endorsing having stronger friendships as a benefit of social non-drinking was associated with increased intention to heed government drinking recommendations in the next month (β = 0.21, p = .006). Conclusions: Study implications are considered in relation to promoting moderate alcohol use among young people on university campuses.





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