Background: To assess whether movie alcohol exposure is associated with alcohol use during early adolescence.
Methods: We conducted a survey of adolescents (N = 5,581) from 27 schools in Germany. Each was asked if he/she had seen a list of 50 movie titles, randomly selected from a sample of 398 US box office hits released there. Screen alcohol use was timed for each movie, summed for movies each adolescent had seen, and adjusted to reflect exposure to all 398 movies. We assessed the association between this exposure and any alcohol use without parental knowledge (WPK) and binge drinking (>or= 5 drinks).
Results: Alcohol use was depicted in 88% of the 398 movies. Median exposure to movie alcohol use was 3.44 h (interquartile range = 1.51-6.23 h). Overall 36.6% of subjects used alcohol WPK and 18.1% reported binge drinking. Movie alcohol exposure was directly associated with alcohol use WPK and binge drinking, after controlling for multiple covariates including sociodemographics, personality characteristics and social influences. Compared with quartile one, the adjusted odds of alcohol use WPK were 1.47 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.19-1.82], 2.12 (1.75-2.57) and 2.95 (2.35-3.70) for quartiles 2, 3 and 4, respectively; similarly, adjusted odds of binge drinking were 1.42 (0.93-2.28), 1.84 (1.27-2.67) and 2.59 (1.70-3.95).
Conclusion: This study demonstrates an association between exposure to alcohol use in US movies and alcohol use without parental knowledge in Germany, and is the first study to link movie exposure with binge drinking. Given international distribution of US movies, depicted behaviours may influence adolescents outside the country of origin.