Objective: To examine the associations between displayed alcohol use and intoxication/problem drinking (I/PD) references on Facebook and self-reported problem drinking using a clinical scale.
Design: Content analysis and cross-sectional survey.
Setting: Facebook Web site (http://www.facebook.com/).
Participants: The study included undergraduate students (age range, 18-20 years) at 2 state universities with public Facebook profiles.
Main exposures: The profiles were categorized into 1 of 3 distinct categories: Nondisplayers, Alcohol Displayers, and I/PD Displayers.
Outcome measures: An online survey measured problem drinking using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scale. Analyses examined associations between alcohol display category and (1) AUDIT problem drinking category using logistic regression, (2) AUDIT score using negative binomial regression, and (3) alcohol-related injury using the Fisher exact test.
Results: Among 307 profiles identified, 224 participants completed the survey (73% response rate). The average age was 18.8 years; 122 (54%) were female; 152 (68%) were white; and approximately 50% were from each university. Profile owners who displayed I/PD were more likely (odds ratio, 4.4; 95% CI, 2.0-9.4) to score in the problem drinking category of the AUDIT scale, had 64.0% (incidence rate ratio, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.27-11.0) higher AUDIT scores overall, and were more likely to report an alcohol-related injury in the past year (P = .002).
Conclusions: Displayed references to I/PD were positively associated with AUDIT scores suggesting problem drinking as well as alcohol-related injury. Results suggest that clinical criteria for problem drinking can be applied to Facebook alcohol references.