An exploration of the knowledge and attitudes of the general public, towards alcohol safety guidelines and their own alcohol consumption
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Background: Numbers of alcohol related deaths are increasing year on year (HSCIC, 2016), these rising numbers support the need for newer and clearer public guidelines on alcohol consumption (Department of Health, 2016 A). In January 2016, the UK Chief Medical Officers proposed new updated alcohol guidelines, including decreasing the weekly alcohol units for men from 21 to 14 units. This study aimed to explore knowledge of the updated alcohol guidelines and the attitudes towards alcohol consumption. Methods: This research was a cross-sectional study, using a quantitative questionnaire distributed to the public. Results The study found that the highest proportion of participants chose the correct recommendations for both men and women. However, 49% of male participants believe that the recommendations for men are higher than women’s. The highest proportion of participants could identify the units of alcohol in beer, wine and cider correctly; however less participants could identify units in spirits. 92.39% of participants agreed and strongly agreed that frequently exceeding the recommended guidelines is likely to damage their health. Almost an equal number agreed and disagreed that drinking within the recommended limits was important to them (34.07% disagreed and 30.77% agreed). The highest proportion of participants believed they were sensible drinkers. Conclusions To conclude, there is a lack of awareness amongst the public regarding the updated recommendations for men. Despite being aware of the harmful effects of excessive alcohol consumption many of the public do not feel drinking within recommended limits is important to them and do not worry about exceeding it. This paper highlights the need for further investigation into the publics attitudes towards alcohol and the reasons behind these attitudes.
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