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J Stud Alcohol. 1996 Jan;57(1):47-52.

Seasonal variation in alcohol use.

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  • 1Research Unit in Health and Behavioural Change, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K.



The objective of this article is to describe and quantify seasonality in a number of indicators on alcohol use.


The data analyzed cover a period between 1988 and 1994, and are collected by a telephone survey of persons living in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland. The analysis is on data from 29,256 respondents. Cosinor analysis is the analytical instrument applied; a dummy variable is incorporated in the analysis to model the December peak in alcohol use.


Annual seasonality in alcohol use excluding drinking behavior in December, is highest in the summer. Seasonality with regard to changes in the proportion of respondents who report drinking alcohol in the previous month, or in the proportion of less regular heavy drinkers, is, although statistically significant, not very pronounced. With regard to drinking five or more drinks on 11 or more occasions in the past month the level of seasonality is very pronounced. The December peak in alcohol use powerfully influences the proportion of respondents who report drinking alcohol in the previous month, and the proportion of irregular and regular heavy drinkers.


The data support previous advice that health promotion and health policy activities in relation to alcohol use should take place during the December festive period and, if one aims at heavy drinking, the summer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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