Research conducted by: Richard O. de Visser and Julian D. Birch

Case study prepared by:
Robert F. Houser and Georgette Baghdady

Overview
Binge drinking is a serious public health problem bringing harm to both the individual and society. It compromises a person's health, increasing the risk of many diseases, injury, and death. It also results in a greater incidence of motor vehicle crashes, violence, the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases, and unintended pregnancies. Binge drinking is prevalent among both young and older adults, men and women, and high and low income levels. Governments have formulated guidelines for moderate or sensible drinking levels. The government of the United Kingdom (UK) issued guidelines for sensible drinking as 2-3 alcohol units per day for women and 3-4 units per day for men, an alcohol unit being 10 milliliters of ethanol. A binge drinking episode is when a person drinks above double the recommended daily guidelines in a short period of time.

Questions to Answer What can we learn about the binge drinking patterns of university students in England? Do the bingers and non-bingers differ in their knowledge of the sensible drinking guidelines issued by the UK government?

Design Issues The university students in the sample "self-selected" to participate in the study by responding to recruiting efforts made via email messages and requests in lectures.

Descriptions of Variables

Variable

Description

Sex

Female or male

mo_binge_n

Number of times the university students did binge drinking in the last month (using sex-specific definitions)

modrunk

Number of times the university students drank in the last month

wk_unit_prop

Familiarity with alcohol unit-based guidelines (measured on a 5-point scale)

k_unit_sum

Knowledge of alcohol unit-based guidelines
(score out of 7)

u_fam

Familiarity with alcohol unit-based guidelines
(measured on a 5-point scale)

References

de Visser, R. O., Birch, J. D. (2012). My cup runneth over:Young people's lack of knowledge of low-risk drinking guidelines. Drug and Alcohol Review, 31, 206-212.

Please read the de Visser et al. article first, and then perform the exercises using the data set. For all analyses, statistical significance is based on p<0.05.

How is an alcohol unit operationally defined?

What is the authors' operational definition of binge drinking?

What percentage of the university students in the study sample did binge drinking in the last month?

Perform a histogram of the binge drinking variable for university students. Describe the shape of the distribution.

Perform a stem and leaf graph of the binging variable.

Other studies have found that most binge drinkers are men. Does this study of university students bear evidence of this?

Perform a correlation between the number of times university students binge drank in the last month and the number of times they drank any amount of alcohol in the last month. Interpret your findings.

Explore the shape of the distribution of the wk_unit_prop variable. What transformation would make the distribution approximately normally distributed?

What is the mean and median number of units consumed in the last week by bingers and non-bingers?

Perform an independent samples t test to compare the number of units consumed in the last week (use the square root-transformed variable for wk_unit_prop) between binge drinkers and non-binge drinkers.

Perform a Wilcoxon rank sum test to compare the number of units consumed in the last week (the wk_unit_prop variable) between binge drinkers and non-binge drinkers.

Other studies have shown that young adults average close to four episodes of binge drinking a month. Does this study show evidence of this?

Do non-bingers have better knowledge of unit-based drinking guidelines than bingers?

Are non-bingers more familiar with unit-based drinking guidelines than bingers?

How might the practical utility of sensible alcohol guidelines be promoted?