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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Drinking contexts and the legitimacy of alcohol use: Findings from a focus group study on alcohol use in Denmark

To examine the perceptions and meanings of alcohol use in Denmark with specific focus on drinking contexts. 

A qualitative study using focus group interviews. The sample consisted of five focus groups of adults with one group for each of the following age groups: 16–20; 21–34; 35–44; 45–64; and 65–82 years. The groups consisted of both men and women with five to six participants in each group (27 in total). 

Alcohol use is perceived as legitimate in many social contexts with few being defined as inappropriate. Drinking alone is mostly associated with having alcohol-related problems, but considered legitimate if it is characterized by activity. Drinking socially plays an important role in people’s considerations of legitimate use and seems to overrule the actual alcohol amount consumed. Different contexts influence different meanings of drinking with context and purpose changing with age and life stages.

The social drinking context is pivotal in people’s perception of the legitimacy of their alcohol use, leaving the alcohol amount less important. This calls for the need to focus on and incorporate the drinking context within public health initiatives aimed at reducing high risk drinking, just as the focus on the actual amount of alcohol people consume or their frequency of use.       

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