Student drinking patterns and blood alcohol concentration on commercially organised pub crawls in the UK

Author(s): Quigg Z, Hughes K, Bellis MA


Background: Commercial student pub crawls are associated with high levels of alcohol consumption, and are of growing concern amongst public health and student bodies. However, little is currently known about drinking behaviours whilst participating in these events.

Methods: A questionnaire was implemented amongst 227 students attending commercial pub crawls across three UK events. Questions established alcohol consumption patterns up to the point of interview and throughout the remaining night out, and pub crawl experience. Breathalyser tests were used to measure breath alcohol concentration (converted to blood alcohol concentration [BAC]) at interview. Analyses used chi squared, Mann-Whitney U, Kruskal-Wallis and logistic regression.

Results: 94.3% of participants had consumed alcohol, 90.9% of whom reported preloading. Drinkers reported consuming a median of 10.0 alcohol units (80g of pure alcohol) up to the point of interview (range one-40.6), with estimated total consumption over the evening exceeding 16units (range three-70.6). Median BAC of drinkers at the time of interview was 0.10%BAC (range 0.00-0.27). High BAC (>0.08%; at interview) was associated with having not eaten food in the four hours prior (AOR 4.8, p<0.01), time spent drinking (AOR 1.4, p<0.01) and number of units drank per hour (AOR 1.2, p<0.01).

Conclusions: Measures to prevent high levels of alcohol consumption before and during commercial pub crawls should aim to alter drinking behaviours such as preloading and rapid and excessive drinking. Organisers, local authorities, universities and students should all be involved in ensuring the effective management of pub crawls, including implementation of harm prevention measures.

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