The negative effects of consuming alcohol have been studied and proven many times over, but this has not deterred people from indulging in excessive drinking. Scientists have now found an effective way to get people to lower their alcohol intake.
The study, published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, has found that using concepts like “why to reduce” with “how to reduce” proved to be very effective in anti-alcohol TV advertisements.
Various agencies have tried different approaches to prevent people from excessive drinking. Alcohol consumption is linked to seven percent of global premature deaths, according to a WHO report. It causes a myriad of problems like cancer, premature death, heart disease, and digestive issues.
This study used the cancer-causing nature of alcohol as a deterrent combined with advising people to count their drinks. And it worked.
“We found that pairing information about alcohol and cancer with a particular practical action – counting their drinks – resulted in drinkers reducing the amount of alcohol they consumed,” lead researcher Simone Pettigrew from The George Institute for Global Health, said.
The study registered participants in three different online surveys over the course of six weeks. In the first survey, 7,995 people were involved; in the second one conducted three weeks later, 4,588 of the group participated while in the final one, 2,687 people completed the survey three weeks after the second one.
Each of the participants was randomly assigned to eight groups. The first was a control group while the second was shown the “why to reduce” television advertisement. Of the next three groups, each was shown one of the “how to reduce” messages — counting drinks, sticking to a particular number of drinks, and the third being it’s okay to say no.
Three more groups were shown the “why to reduce” ad combined with each of the three “how to reduce” messages.
The group that showed a significant reduction in alcohol intake was the one that saw the “why to reduce” TV ad talking about the link between drinking and cancer, along with the message that suggested counting drinks as a solution.
Other methods like asking people to decide the number of drinks and sticking to it also showed promise, but the above-mentioned method remained the most effective.
“Many people don’t know that alcohol is a carcinogen,” Pettigrew said. “It’s important information that drinkers should have access to. But telling people alcohol causes cancer is just part of the solution – we also need to give them ways to take action to reduce their risk.”
It can be noted that this study predominantly comprised subjects that were “broadly demographically representative of the Australian drinking public.” It may not guarantee that this method will work effectively elsewhere, however, counting drinks is a good option to try and dissuade people from excessive drinking.
“There are limited resources available for alcohol harm-reduction campaigns, so it’s important to find out which messages resonate best to ensure they have the best chance of working,” Pettigrew stated.