A Social Ecological Approach to Hazardous Alcohol Use among Flemish Higher Education Students
Heavy use of alcohol is a global public health concern. Statistics suggest that this is particularly common in Europe, and among higher education students. Although it has been established that various factors-ranging from the individual to the overarching societal level-are associated with misuse of alcohol, few studies take multiple levels of influence into account simultaneously. The current study, therefore, used a social ecological framework to explore associations between variables from multiple levels of influence and the heavy use of alcohol.
Data were obtained from a representative sample of higher education students from Flanders, Belgium (n = 21,854), and explored using hierarchical multiple regression analyses.
The results demonstrated that the individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and policy levels, were all associated with risky alcohol consumption.
When devising interventions, policymakers should, therefore, take into consideration that variables from multiple levels of influence are at play. Students’ capacities to change or maintain their alcohol consumption behaviors may be undermined if social settings, overarching environments, social norms, and policies are not conducive to their motivations and social expectations.