Examining adolescent drinking trends within Australia according to alcohol and health harm mass media campaign activity

February 2023

Prof Jacqueline Bowden (NCETA), Mr Nathan Harrison (NCETA), Dr Ashlea Bartram (NCETA), Dr Susan Kim (Flinders University), Dr Wing See Yuen (National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre)

Other investigators: 

A/Prof Amy Peacock (National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre), Prof Simone Pettigrew (The George Institute for Global Health; National Drug Research Institute), Dr Emily Brennan (Cancer Council Victoria; University of Melbourne), Prof Caroline Miller (University of Adelaide; South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute), Prof Sarah Durkin (Cancer Council Victoria; University of Melbourne), Ms Tahnee McCausland (Western Australian Mental Health Commission)

Project description: 

Preventing and delaying the initiation of alcohol use among adolescents, and reducing risky drinking, can reduce the alcohol-related harms experienced by this group. Existing findings suggest a potential, promising role for mass media campaigns in reducing parental supply of alcohol and adolescent drinking (and similarly, anti-tobacco mass media campaigns are, with sufficient reach, a critical tool to reducing smoking rates). For example, in our preliminary qualitative research with Australian parents, those in Western Australia – where there are well-established alcohol and health harm mass media campaigns - showed greater awareness of the health effects of adolescent drinking than parents from other states, and often attributed this to the campaigns.

Along with our broader team of collaborators and members of NCETA’s consumer advisor panel, our study will assess the real-world impact of health harm mass media campaign activity, including impacts on parental supply of alcohol and adolescent drinking. We will conduct analysis of data from an ‘intervention’ state over the years associated with a major mass media campaign compared to a control state where mass media campaign activity on this topic has been relatively sparse. We will use high-quality behavioural data from NDARC’s Australian Parental Supply of Alcohol Longitudinal Study, along with objectively quantified campaign activity data from the two states over time, to assess relations to alcohol outcomes.

This work complements NCETA’s program of research on adolescent and parent characteristics to target to reduce parental supply of alcohol and adolescent drinking. Our findings will build the evidence base to support future population interventions aimed at reducing adolescent harms from alcohol. We look forward to sharing findings in due course.

This project is funded through a 2022 Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant by Flinders Foundation and Flinders University.