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Thursday, March 8, 2012

The International Alcohol Control (IAC) Study—Evaluating the Impact of Alcohol Policies

This paper describes a new multicountry collaborative project to assess the impact of alcohol control policy. Longitudinal surveys of drinkers in a number of participating countries and analysis of the policy context allow for the assessment of change over time within countries and comparison between countries. The design of the study is modeled on the International Tobacco Control study and aims to assess the impact of alcohol policies in different cultural contexts on policy-related behaviors and alcohol consumption. A survey instrument and protocol for policy analysis have been developed by the initial participating countries: England, Scotland, Thailand, South Korea, and New Zealand. The first round of data collection is scheduled for 2011–2012.

The survey instrument (International Alcohol Control [IAC] survey) measures key policy relevant behaviors: place and time of purchase, amounts purchased and price paid; ease of access to alcohol purchase; alcohol marketing measures; social supply; perceptions of alcohol affordability and availability and salience of price; perceptions of enforcement; people's experiences with specific alcohol restrictions; support for policy and consumption (typical quantity, frequency using beverage and location-specific measures). The Policy Analysis Protocol (PoLAP) assesses relevant aspects of the policy environment including regulation and implementation.

It has proved feasible to design instruments to collect detailed data on behaviors relevant to alcohol policy change and to assess the policy environment in different cultural settings.

In a policy arena in which the interest groups and stakeholders have different perceptions of appropriate policy responses to alcohol-related harm, a robust methodology to assess the impact of policy will contribute to the debate.

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