Cross-national time trends in adolescent alcohol use from 2002 to 2014

Eva Leal-López*, Inmaculada Sánchez-Queija, Alessio Vieno, Dorothy Currie, Torbjorn Torsheim, Daria Pavlova, Concepción Moreno-Maldonado, Bart De Clercq, Michal Kalman, Joanna Inchley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Adolescent alcohol consumption is a major public health concern that should be continuously monitored. This study aims (i) to analyze country-level trends in weekly alcohol consumption, drunkenness and early initiation in alcohol consumption and drunkenness among 15-year-old adolescents from 39 countries and regions across Europe and North America between 2002 and 2014 and (ii) to examine the geographical patterns in adolescent alcohol-related behaviours.

Methods: The sample was composed of 250 161 adolescents aged 15 from 39 countries and regions from Europe and North America. Survey years were 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. The alcohol consumption and drunkenness items of the HBSC questionnaire were employed. Prevalence ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated using Poisson regression models with robust variance.

Results: Data show a general decrease in all four alcohol variables between 2002 and 2014 except for some countries. However, there is variability both within a country (depending on the alcohol-related behaviour under study) and across countries (in the beginning and shape of trends). Some countries have not reduced or even increased their levels in some variables. Although some particularities have persisted over time, there are no robust patterns by regions.

Conclusions: Despite an overall decrease in adolescent alcohol consumption, special attention should be paid to those countries where declines are not present, or despite decreasing, rates are still high. Further research is needed to clarify factors associated with adolescent drinking, to better understand country specificities and to implement effective policies.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberckab024
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Early online date14 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


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