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Alcohol Res Health. 2003;27(1):30-8.

Tracking alcohol consumption over time.

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Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, Berkeley, California, USA.


Researchers are tracking long-term changes in alcohol consumption and related behaviors or outcomes in order to detect trends in the entire population or certain subgroups, test models of alcohol-related outcomes, and understand the consequences of interventions. Such analyses must consider the complexity of typical lifetime consumption patterns. Major approaches to measuring alcohol consumption over time include aggregate measures of consumption (e.g., sales data), cross-sectional surveys, and longitudinal or panel surveys. When analyzing the data, researchers must try to ensure the comparability of measurements over time. The stability of various measures and the potential for combining different types of data are also important considerations when tracking alcohol consumption over time. If these requirements are met, the regular collection of data on aspects of alcohol consumption will greatly increase researchers' understanding of the forces influencing a population's alcohol consumption and its consequences.

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