Motivation to reduce alcohol consumption and subsequent attempts at reduction and changes in consumption in increasing and higher-risk drinkers in England: a prospective population survey

Addiction. 2018 May;113(5):817-827. doi: 10.1111/add.14132. Epub 2018 Jan 25.


Aims: To assess how far motivation to reduce alcohol consumption in increasing and higher-risk drinkers in England predicts self-reported attempts to reduce alcohol consumption and changes in alcohol intake during the following 6 months.

Methods: This study used self-reported data from 2928 higher-risk drinkers in the Alcohol Toolkit Study (ATS): a series of monthly cross-sectional household surveys of adults aged 16+ years of age in England. Alcohol consumption was measured in an initial survey and in a 6-month telephone follow-up interview using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)-C questionnaire. Motivation was measured in the initial survey using the Motivation to Reduce Alcohol Consumption (MRAC) scale. Attempts to reduce alcohol consumption during the past 6 months were recorded at follow-up. Data were analysed using repeated-measures difference-in-differences and logistic regression models.

Results: Participants with higher initial motivation to reduce alcohol consumption were more likely to report that they had made an attempt to reduce consumption at follow-up [adjusted odds ratio (ORadj ) = 2.39, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.75-3.29]. There was an overall reduction in alcohol consumption between initial survey and follow-up (ORadj = 0.72, 95% CI = 0.65-0.79), but there was insufficient evidence of an additional effect of motivation to reduce consumption on subsequent changes in alcohol consumption, with the difference-in-differences effect instead suggesting an average increase (ORadj = 1.37, 95% CI = 1.00-1.88).

Conclusions: Increasing and higher-risk drinkers in England who report greater motivation to reduce their consumption are more likely to report making an attempt to reduce during the next 6 months, but this may not be associated with a reduction in alcohol consumption.

Keywords: ATS; Alcohol; Alcohol Toolkit Study; audit; behaviour; consumption; motivation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult