Understanding the individual's response to Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol

Published: 5 January 2021

New study of factors that influence an individual's drinking, their switching to other substances and/or their seeking treatment, in the context of MUP.

Published 5th January 2021

Researchers from the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit carried out a daily smartphone survey and face-to-face interviews with a small sample of people who self-identified as heavy drinkers, or who identified as having stopped or cut down their drinking.

The study focussed on behaviour changes among 25 current and former heavy drinkers, by repeatedly measuring the same set of factors over three months. The team included peer researchers (people affected by alcohol dependence) from the start, both to ensure the quality of the research and to amplify their voices of experience.

The analysis found that the predictors of behaviour change varied widely from person to person: with situational availability of alcohol, mood and adaptive responses to controlling alcohol use (such as motivation and implementing strategies to drink less) most common.

Whilst some participants reported no change in their drinking, others highlighted losing access to low price alcohol following the implementation of MUP. The researchers found a trend towards consumption of fewer units of alcohol per day after MUP was implemented amongst some, but not all, participants – typically those who were drinking more before MUP was introduced.

No participants reported switched to using drugs since MUP was implemented.  

The mixed methods N of 1 design provides information on the variety of person-specific factors relating to alcohol use. This approach describes the potential processes which may aggregate to produce the population level effect of MUP. Other MUP evaluation studies are currently evaluating the overall effect of MUP.

An N-of-1 study of daily alcohol consumption following Minimum Unit Pricing implementation in Scotland is published in Addiction.

First published: 5 January 2021

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