Tackling Scotland's Drinking Problem: An examination of transdermal alcohol monitoring as a tool to change drinking behaviour

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Background Scotland needs to tackle its drinking problem. Excessive alcohol consumption places a significant burden on Scottish society (Scottish Government, 2010): alcohol-related deaths have risen over 100% since 1990 (Scottish Government, 2009) and 45% of prisoners admitted to being drunk at the time of their offence (SPS, 2007). Recently, the use of transdermal alcohol monitoring anklets in the USA successfully reduced alcohol consumption among those convicted of DUI (AMS, 2012). However, there is little robust research examining how this technology curbs drinking, or the experience of wearing an anklet. Methods A mixed-methods experimental approach was employed to investigate patterns of alcohol consumption and experiences of monitoring over a 2-week period. Data collection methods included: transdermal alcohol monitoring, questionnaires, reflective diaries, and focus groups. A convenience sample of 60 Scottish university students self-identifying as heavy drinkers was randomly allocated to three conditions: 1.Wear anklet, asked not to drink; 2.Wear anklet, drink as usual; 3.No anklet, asked not to drink. Results Questionnaire and transdermal alcohol monitoring data allowed quantitative analysis of patterns of consumption. Focus groups and diaries provided depth to this analysis by yielding rich, contextual information. Further, these qualitative methods explored how participants felt about the technology (e.g. intrusive/helpful) how it shaped alcohol consumption (e.g. offering a valid reason not to drink) and the practicalities of living with the anklet (e.g. preventing participation in certain activities). Conclusions The current study provides insights into the experience of transdermal alcohol monitoring, and the ways in which it may modify alcohol consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2012
EventAmerican Public Health Association Annual Meeting - Washington DC, United States
Duration: 29 Oct 20112 Nov 2011


ConferenceAmerican Public Health Association Annual Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityWashington DC


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