Teen drinkers needed for harm reduction, prevention study

16 Nov 2016

Teens at risk of drinking in excess may not receive the health services they need as a result of gaps in national alcohol consumption reporting.

University of Queensland School of Public Health researcher Dr Caroline Salom said there is a need for quality research on teens who regularly drink alcohol to reduce harm and create prevention strategies.

“We are looking for 100 Queensland teens aged between 14 and 19 years old to take part in a study assessing risky drinking patterns and will be interviewing participants in Brisbane and the Gold Coast,” Dr Salom said.

“Data from the Queensland study cohort will contribute to national research led by Curtin University.

“This is a chance for teens to tell us their stories so we can document what harm is being generated and deploy much needed resources and reduce future problems.”

Dr Salom said current national reports collate survey data from school students every three years – showing marked declines in alcohol consumption – miss a large group of at-risk teens.

“Kids who drink alcohol in excess are often disengaged from school and not sitting in class filling out surveys, so there is definitely underreporting,” Dr Salom said.

“Existing reports look at teens who have ‘ever consumed’ alcohol but we’re looking at teens who drink anything between one to ten standard drinks a fortnight.

“Teens drinking at risky levels experience other problems because they’re not always at school and are a hidden population.

“We don’t know what they get up to or how we can help them.”

Dr Salom said the study, Young Australians Alcohol Reporting System (YAARS), will look at the harms associated with drinking in excess.

“We’re asking questions such as what types of alcohol is being purchased, how teens transport themselves to-and-from drinking locations and how long it takes to consume each drink.”

Dr Salom said these teens don’t come to the attention of the authorities and aren’t noticed by health services.

“These teens don’t land themselves in emergency, but they drink enough that it’s harmful and it’s not being documented.

“This study will document what harm is being generated so we can deploy the resources needed and in the process try to educate teens about what challenges they will face if they continue.”

Dr Caroline Salom will complete the research with Principal Investigator Professor Rosa Alati from UQ’s School of Public Health and is seeking participants to sign up in the month of November.

Click here to find out more and call or SMS 0487 984 649 to register interest in participating in this research.

Media: Dr Caroline Salom, c.salom@uq.edu.au, +61 7 336 55437; Bernadette O’Connor, bernadette.oconnor@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 5118, 0431 533 209.