Objective: To analyse available review-level evidence on the effectiveness of population-level interventions in non-clinical settings to reduce alcohol consumption or related health or social harm.
Method: Health, social policy and specialist review databases between 2002 and 2012 were searched for systematic reviews of the effectiveness of population-level alcohol interventions on consumption or alcohol-related health or social outcomes. Data were extracted on review research aim, inclusion criteria, outcome indicators, results, conclusions and limitations. Reviews were quality-assessed using AMSTAR criteria. A narrative synthesis was conducted overall and by policy area.
Results: Fifty-two reviews were included from ten policy areas. There is good evidence for policies and interventions to limit alcohol sale availability, to reduce drink-driving, to increase alcohol price or taxation. There is mixed evidence for family- and community-level interventions, school-based interventions, and interventions in the alcohol server setting and the mass media. There is weak evidence for workplace interventions and for interventions targeting illicit alcohol sales. There is evidence of the ineffectiveness of interventions in higher education settings.
Conclusion: There is a pattern of support from the evidence base for regulatory or statutory enforcement interventions over local non-regulatory approaches targeting specific population groups.
Keywords: Alcohol drinking; Alcohol-related disorders; Prevention and control; Review.