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Public acceptability of population-level interventions to reduce alcohol consumption: A discrete choice experiment


  • Pechey, Rachel
  • Burge, Peter
  • Mentzakis, Emmanouil
  • Suhrcke, Marc
  • Marteau, Theresa M.


Public acceptability influences policy action, but the most acceptable policies are not always the most effective. This discrete choice experiment provides a novel investigation of the acceptability of different interventions to reduce alcohol consumption and the effect of information on expected effectiveness, using a UK general population sample of 1202 adults. Policy options included high, medium and low intensity versions of: Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) for alcohol; reducing numbers of alcohol retail outlets; and regulating alcohol advertising. Outcomes of interventions were predicted for: alcohol-related crimes; alcohol-related hospital admissions; and heavy drinkers. First, the models obtained were used to predict preferences if expected outcomes of interventions were not taken into account. In such models around half of participants or more were predicted to prefer the status quo over implementing outlet reductions or higher intensity MUP. Second, preferences were predicted when information on expected outcomes was considered, with most participants now choosing any given intervention over the status quo. Acceptability of MUP interventions increased by the greatest extent: from 43% to 63% preferring MUP of £1 to the status quo. Respondents' own drinking behaviour also influenced preferences, with around 90% of non-drinkers being predicted to choose all interventions over the status quo, and with more moderate than heavy drinkers favouring a given policy over the status quo. Importantly, the study findings suggest public acceptability of alcohol interventions is dependent on both the nature of the policy and its expected effectiveness. Policy-makers struggling to mobilise support for hitherto unpopular but promising policies should consider giving greater prominence to their expected outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Pechey, Rachel & Burge, Peter & Mentzakis, Emmanouil & Suhrcke, Marc & Marteau, Theresa M., 2014. "Public acceptability of population-level interventions to reduce alcohol consumption: A discrete choice experiment," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 104-109.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:113:y:2014:i:c:p:104-109
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.05.010

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Promberger, Marianne & Dolan, Paul & Marteau, Theresa M., 2012. "“Pay them if it works”: Discrete choice experiments on the acceptability of financial incentives to change health related behaviour," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(12), pages 2509-2514.
    2. Satya Mohapatra & Jayadeep Patra & Svetlana Popova & Amy Duhig & Jürgen Rehm, 2010. "Social cost of heavy drinking and alcohol dependence in high-income countries," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 55(3), pages 149-157, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Martha Bicket & Robin Vanner, 2016. "Designing Policy Mixes for Resource Efficiency: The Role of Public Acceptability," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(4), pages 1-17, April.
    2. Li, Jessica & Lovatt, Melanie & Eadie, Douglas & Dobbie, Fiona & Meier, Petra & Holmes, John & Hastings, Gerard & MacKintosh, Anne Marie, 2017. "Public attitudes towards alcohol control policies in Scotland and England: Results from a mixed-methods study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 177(C), pages 177-189.
    3. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:4:p:366:d:68173 is not listed on IDEAS

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    UK; Public acceptability; Alcohol; Health policy;


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