Characterising the Patterns of and Factors Associated With Increased Alcohol Consumption Since COVID‐19 in a UK Sample
To examine changes in alcohol consumption patterns and to assess factors associated with reported increases in frequency of alcohol consumption, units consumed and frequency of heavy episodic drinking [alcohol consumption] (HED) during the UK lockdown.
Online cross‐sectional survey of 2777 self‐selected UK adults.
Thirty percent of participants reported consuming alcohol more frequently in lockdown, 16% reported consuming more units per alcohol consumption occasion and 14% reported more frequent HED. For men and women, increased frequency of alcohol consumption was associated with being less likely to believe alcohol consumption would lead to greater chance of catching COVID‐19 (men: OR = 0.99, 95% CI = 0.98, 1.00; women: OR = 0.99, 95% CI = 0.99, 1.00) and deterioration in psychological wellbeing (OR = 1.27, 95% CI = 1.04, 1.54; OR = 1.29, 95% CI = 1.11, 1.51); increased unit consumption was associated with deterioration in financial situation (OR = 1.50, 95% CI = 1.21, 1.86; OR = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.05, 1.64) and physical health (OR = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.03, 1.67; OR = 1.66, 95% CI = 1.31, 2.10). Finally, increases in the frequency of HED were associated with deterioration in psychological wellbeing (OR = 1.65, 95% CI = 1.25, 2.18; OR = 1.46, 95% CI = 1.17, 1.82) and being furloughed (OR = 3.25, 95% CI = 1.80, 5.86; OR = 2.06, 95% CI = 1.19, 3.56). Other gender differences were detected, for example, living with children was associated with an increase in units consumed (OR = 1.72, 95% CI = 1.09, 2.73) and the frequency of HED (OR = 2.40, 95% CI = 1.44, 3.99) for men, but not women.
Discussion and Conclusions
In this self‐selected UK sample, a significant proportion of individuals reported alcohol consumption more frequently in lockdown, consuming more units per alcohol consumption occasion and more frequent HED. There were consistent predictors of increased consumption across men and women, but other gender differences were detected. This study identifies groups that may require targeted support in future lockdowns.
Research in context
In our study, we sought to inform public health messaging and identify groups that might require targeted support for [alcohol problems] in future lockdowns. Our findings suggest those on furlough or similar schemes may require additional alcohol-related support. The increase in heavy episodic [alcohol use] among fathers is also concerning, and is in line with research suggesting women are carrying the burden of increased childcare,” said Dr. Melissa Oldham, lead author of the study as per, inews.Dr. Melissa Oldham, lead author of the study