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Information was collected for persons aged 15 years and over in the NHS.
Intake of alcohol - Assessing long term/lifetime risk of alcohol consumption
Respondents were asked how long ago they last had an alcoholic drink. Those who reported they had a drink within the previous week were then asked the days in that week on which they had consumed alcohol (excluding the day on which the interview was conducted). For each of the most recent three days in that last week on which they drank, the types and quantities (number and size) of drinks they had consumed were recorded. They were also asked whether their consumption in that week was more, about the same, or less than their usual consumption. Information was collected separately for the following categories of alcoholic drinks:
More than one response was allowed.
If interviewers were unsure in which category a reported drink belonged, details were recorded in 'other alcoholic drinks' for checking/reclassifying as appropriate during later processing.
Respondents were asked to report the number of drinks of each alcohol type they had consumed, the size of the drinks, and where possible the brand name(s) of the drink(s) consumed on each of the most recent three days in the last week on which they had consumed alcohol. Interviewers were able to record this information by selecting from a list in a trigram coder or by recording the details for later coding during processing.
The collection of accurate data on quantity of alcohol consumed is difficult, particularly where recall is concerned, given the nature and possible circumstances of consumption. Interviewers were provided with extensive documentation and training to assist with recording of amounts consumed. Where possible, information was collected in terms of standard containers or measures; i.e. 10 oz glass, stubby, nip, etc. Where the size of the drink did not readily fit into the list provided to interviewers, they were asked to record as much information as necessary to clearly indicate the quantity.
Reported quantities of drinks consumed were converted to millilitres (mls) of alcohol present in those drinks, and then summed to the drink type, day, and week level as required. The methodology to convert drinks to mls of alcohol consumed is as follows:
Alcohol content of the drink consumed (%) x number of drinks (of that type) consumed x vessel size (in mls)
This conversion was performed electronically, supported by clerical coding for cases which could not be coded automatically. From this, an average daily alcohol consumption item was derived. Two indicators of alcohol risk level were created from the average daily alcohol consumption item:
According to the average daily intake over the 7 days of the reference week, respondents' long term/lifetime risk levels were determined according to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) alcohol consumption risk guidelines (see section below).
Where precise brand type of drink information was not recorded, default alcohol content values based on drink type were applied. These values are shown below:
It is recognised that particular types or brands of beverage within each of these categories may contain more or less alcohol than indicated by the conversion factor; for example, full-strength beers are usually in the range 4% to 6% alcohol by volume. The factors are considered to be sufficiently representative of each category as a whole for the purposes of indicating relative health risk as appropriate to the aims of this survey. However, it should be noted that these categories, defined by the conversion factors used, may not reflect exact legal definitions.
In addition to the information about alcohol consumed in the previous week, respondents were asked how often they had an alcoholic drink in the last 12 months:
Frequency of consuming 'at risk' amounts of alcohol - Assessing short term/single occasion risk of alcohol consumption
Respondents were asked the number of times they had the following number of standard drinks in a day in the last 12 months:
The number of standard drinks per day is then used to calculate whether a respondent had consumed alcohol at a 'risky' level in the last 12 months according to the NHMRC short term/single occasion risk guidelines (see section below).
In addition to this, respondents were asked whether their consumption of alcohol had increased, decreased, or stayed about the same since the same time last year.
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines for consumption of alcohol
The 2011-12 survey reported alcohol risk based on both the 2001 and 2009 NHMRC alcohol consumption guidelines.
2001 NHMRC guidelines
The 2001 NHMRC guidelines for reducing long-term and short term health risks associated with alcohol consumption are as follows:
2001 NHMRC GUIDELINES
2009 NHMRC guidelines
The 2009 NHMRC guidelines for reducing lifetime and single occasion health risks associated with alcohol consumption on any day are as follows:
2009 NHMRC GUIDELINES(a)
For more information see NHMRC alcohol guidelines.
The data items and related output categories for this topic are available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.
Points to be considered in interpreting alcohol data include the following:
Comparability with 2007-08
The methodology used in the 2011-12 survey for the collection of data about the quantity of alcohol consumed was the same as that used in the 2007-08 survey.
The 2011-12 NHS used a trigram brand coder which enabled a specific alcohol percentage to be applied for each type of drink. The 2007-08 NHS collected brand via a text box for allocation of specific alcohol percentages. However it did not collect brand for wine, champagne/sparkling wine and cocktails, instead using a generalised alcohol percentage for these drink types.
Consideration should also be given to the social factors and general changes in health awareness which have occurred in the period between surveys and which may have influenced the levels of reporting. In addition, a new alcohol tax was introduced prior to the commencement of data collection for the 2011-12 NHS survey. The introduction of this tax may have resulted in the alcohol in some drinks being reduced by some manufacturers. This reduction in alcohol changed the number of standard drinks in the container of that brand product.