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Longitudinal Study
of Alcohol Use

This longitudinal research, based on an alcohol component in the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, aims to describe drinking careers from childhood to young adulthood in a general population sample of New Zealanders. The Dunedin study follows 1037 children born in 1972-3. Questions about alcohol were first included when children were 9, and in each subsequent phase of the study. In the 1998-99 phase of the study the respondents will be aged 26.

The survey has asked questions on topics such as the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption, recall of advertising and other mass media comunications, alcohol-related problems, access to alcohol, changes in consumption and reasons for any changes. The alcohol component of the study included an international comparison of alcohol-related studies from fifteen countries covering the United States, Canada, Britain, Europe, Scandinavia and Israel.

This research aims to identify those young people who have moved through a heavier drinking stage into a less risky pattern of drinking lower quantities and those who have maintained heavy patterns of use, seeking to determine whether aspects of their earlier drinking career and characteristics of their current drinking context have an effect on whether and how their drinking changes. Collection and analysis of data focuses on the influence of environmental and contextual variables. As the sample has reached young adulthood the focus is increasingly upon describing changes in drinking and what has influenced these, both the respondent’s own perception of influences but also prediction from variables measured in earlier phases. A third focus is on the link between moderate drinking and health, including the role of social networks.

At age 21, structural equation modelling showed a positve impact of liking for alcohol adverrtising and beer brand allegiance at age 18 on the volume of beer consumed at age 21 and self-reports of alcohol related aggressive behaviour. 

S. Casswell & J-F Zhang (1998) Impact of liking for advertising and brand allegiance on drinking and alcohol-related aggression: A longitudinal study. Addiction 93(8), 1209-1217

Researchers: Sally Casswell, Jia-Fang Zhang

Researchers are currently analysing data up to age 26 to investigate patterns in drinking careers.  As national surveys show heaviest drinking below age 25, findings from this longitudinal study may throw light on changes of drinking pattern as drinkers mature.


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