Background: The objective of this study was to establish baseline data on alcohol consumption patterns, behaviours and harms among amateur sportsmen in the Republic of Ireland.
Findings: The study presents findings from the baseline survey for a cluster randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a community intervention programme to reduce problem alcohol use among a representative sample of Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) clubs in two counties in the Republic of Ireland. Self reported alcohol use, prevalence of binge drinking, AUDIT scores and alcohol-related harms were assessed in amateur GAA sportsmen aged 16 years and over.Nine hundred and sixty (960) players completed questionnaires (72% response rate). Mean age was 24.0 years (S.D. 5.2). Of those aged 18 years or over, 75% had post-primary education; most (864, 90%) were current drinkers and 8.2% were regular smokers. The self-reported average yearly alcohol consumption was 12.5 litres. Almost one third (31%) of current drinkers reported drinking over the recommended limit of 21 standard drinks per week and just over half (54.3%) reported drinking 6 or more standard drinks in a row at least once a week (regular binge drinking). Of those who (self) completed the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) questionnaire, three-quarters (74.7%) had a score of 8 or more; 11.5% had a score of 20 or above warranting referral for diagnostic evaluation and treatment. Almost all (87.6%) of the 864 drinkers reported experiencing at least one harm due to their drinking. These alcohol misuse outcomes were higher than those found in a nationally representative sample of males of a similar age. There were strong associations between regular binge drinking and reporting harms such as being in a fight (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 2.02, p < 0.001), missing time from work or college (adjusted OR 1.39, p = 0.04) or being in an accident (adjusted OR 1.78, p = 0.04).
Conclusions: These male amateur sportsmen reported high rates of alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm.