Consequences of Low Risk and Hazardous Alcohol Consumption among University Students in Australia and Implications for Health Promotion Interventions


Background: Hazardous alcohol consumption and associated harms are high among young uni- versity students. The university environment is conducive to excessive alcohol consumption with studies finding young university students to drink alcohol at higher levels than their non-university peers. Methods: A random sample of 18 - 24-year-old undergraduate, internal university students completed a survey (n = 2465) to investigate differences in self-reported personal, second-hand and witnessed alcohol-related harms, alcohol expectancies, pre-loading, and friends’ alcohol consumption between low risk and hazardous drinkers. Univariate and multivariate analyses are reported. Results: Almost 40% of students who had consumed alcohol in the past year reported drinking at hazardous levels. Univariate analyses found students who reported hazardous drinking reported significantly higher scores relating to experienced, second-hand, witnessed and academic problems compared to low risk drinkers. Hazardous drinkers were also more likely to pre-load, to drink at higher levels when pre-loading, have more friends who drank alcohol, have more friends who drank at hazardous levels and to score higher on alcohol expectancies. However both low risk and hazardous drinkers experienced a range of harms due to their own drinking including hangover (71.2%), unprotected sex (19.3%), regretted sex (16.8%) and drink-driving (17%). Looking after an intoxicated student (34.3%) and witnessing someone pass out (37.5%) were issues for all drinkers. Experienced alcohol related harms, academic problems, alcohol expectancies, close friends’ level of alcohol consumption, pre-loading in the last four weeks and level of consumption when pre-loading were predictors of hazardous drinking (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Young undergraduate university students are at risk of a range of academic, social, emotional and physical harms associated with their own and other students’ alcohol consumption. There is a need for integrated programs to address university drinking culture and effect positive changes.

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Burns, S. , Crawford, G. , Hallett, J. , Jancey, J. , Portsmouth, L. , Hunt, K. and Longo, J. (2015) Consequences of Low Risk and Hazardous Alcohol Consumption among University Students in Australia and Implications for Health Promotion Interventions. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 5, 1-13. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2015.51001.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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