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The trajectory of first year students’ drinking during the transition from home to university and the factors associated with alcohol consumption

Gambles, N (2019) The trajectory of first year students’ drinking during the transition from home to university and the factors associated with alcohol consumption. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Background Despite recent decreases in young adults’ drinking across the UK (ONS, 2018), a subset of the population who still regularly engage in harmful and excessive alcohol behaviours are university students. Whilst there is some published research in the UK on undergraduates’ consumption patterns, drinking across the transition to university has generally been overlooked with most studies tending to measure alcohol behaviours across the whole student population. This research explores students’ drinking experiences and the impacts of alcohol use across the transition from home to university to gain insight into what drives consumption at university and identify common behavioural drinking patterns. I anticipated that through investigating students’ experiences with alcohol during the transitional period, findings could be used to inform the development of future alcohol interventions by identifying new insights for policy makers and developers. Research Aim The research presented in this thesis aimed to explore the perceptions, prevalence and factors associated with alcohol use as well as related harms during the move from home to university. Methodology A mixed methods approach was adopted, comprising of three studies. The first study involved seven focus group interviews with prospective students from a large urban city in the North West of England (N=46; aged 16 to 20 years). This study was followed by a survey conducted with 221 first year LJMU halls of residence students (aged 18 to 21 years). The survey results were analysed using bivariate and multivariate analysis. The final study involved 11 paired interviews (N=22) with first year LJMU students. Both qualitative strands were analysed using thematic analysis. The data from the three strands were synthesised and contrasted using triangulation. Results Overall, the triangulated findings identify the transition to university as a high-risk period for excessive drinking which is associated with an increased risk of negative health and wellbeing outcomes and alcohol-related harms. The findings indicate that through various sources of information, new students arrive at university with pre-conceived perceptions of a heavy student drinking culture and knowledge around how alcohol can be used to aid successful integration with new peers. Upon entering university, the knowledge and expectations of a heavy student drinking culture obtained prior to arrival are then confirmed through intensive alcohol promotions, new social drinking opportunities and excessive drinking norms which characterise the first few weeks of university. Conclusion Evidence presented in this thesis helps contribute to an important gap in the literature as it is one of the only studies to measure UK students’ experiences with alcohol across the university transition. Whilst the proportion of young people (16 to 24 years) consuming alcohol has decreased in the UK, the current study provides evidence of a cohort of young people who still regularly engage in high risk drinking often with the specific aim of getting intoxicated. The upward trend of drinking is a concern given the wide-ranging associations with excessive student alcohol consumption and risk of negative consequences and ill-mental health.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alcohol; University students; Undergraduates; Cultural norms; Student drinking culture; Transition; Transition to university; University drinking norms; Students drinking; Drinking habits
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Divisions: Public Health Institute
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2019 08:29
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2022 11:19
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00011011
Supervisors: Quigg, Z, Porcellato, L and Fleming, KM
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11011
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