To support the free and open dissemination of research findings and information on alcoholism and alcohol-related problems. To encourage open access to peer-reviewed articles free for all to view.

For full versions of posted research articles readers are encouraged to email requests for "electronic reprints" (text file, PDF files, FAX copies) to the corresponding or lead author, who is highlighted in the posting.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Comparing Alcohol Policies Between Countries: Science or Silliness?
PLoS Med 4(4): e153

It seems self-evident that it would be useful to have a way of comparing alcohol policies between countries. A metric to compare countries would enable improvements or changes to be monitored; create benchmarks for comparative purposes; and potentially improve policy efficiency and effectiveness. Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) in its alcohol policy report notes that “‥it would be useful to develop a scientific way to measure and to evaluate overall policy comprehensiveness” [1].

But it seems that the endeavour is fraught. The multiplicity of problems—conceptual, methodological, and political—lead some researchers and policy makers to conclude that the effort is not worth pursuing. For those brave or foolhardy enough to persist, including Brand and colleagues who now report their findings in PLoS Medicine [2], there are a number of different ways of approaching a common metric. Inputs (such as government spending), outcomes (such as consumption or harm), and policy statements can all be measured and compared. Each of these different approaches has strengths and weaknesses, without a clear front-runner.

. . . . .