A study evaluated the short-term effects of publishing revised lower risk national drinking guidelines on related awareness and knowledge. In January 2016, the revised UK national drinking guidelines were published that reduced the recommended limit for males from 21 to 14 units per week.
A total of 11,845 adults (18+) living in private households in England were included in the study. A monthly repeat cross-sectional national survey was carried out in England from November 2015 to May 2016.
The survey asked whether drinkers (1) had heard of drinking guidelines (awareness), (2) stated the guideline was above, exactly or below 14 units (knowledge) and (3) reported seeing the stated guideline number of units in the last month in each of 11 locations (exposure).
Following publication of the guidelines, the proportion of drinkers aware of guidelines did not increase from its baseline level of 85.1% (CI 82.7% to 87.1%). However, the proportion of male drinkers saying the guideline was 14 units or less increased from 22.6% (CI 18.9% to 26.7%) in December to 43.3% (CI 38.9% to 47.8%) in January and was at 35.6% (CI 31.6% to 39.9%) in May. Last month exposure to the guidelines was below 25% in all locations except television/radio, where exposure increased from 33% (CI 28.8% to 36.2%) in December to 65% (CI 61.2% to 68.3%) in January. Awareness and knowledge of guidelines was lowest in social grade DE and this gap remained after publication.
The publication of new or revised lower risk drinking guidelines can improve drinkers' knowledge of these guidelines within all sociodemographic groups; however, in the absence of sustained promotional activity, positive effects may not be maintained and social inequalities in awareness and knowledge of guidelines are likely to persist, the authors conclude.
Source: Short-term effects of announcing revised lower risk national drinking guidelines on related awareness and knowledge: a trend analysis of monthly survey data in England. Holmes J; Brown J; Meier P; Beard E; Michie S; Buykx P. BMJ Open Vol 6, No 12, 2016, Art No e013804, 10pp.