Influence of the neighbourhood alcohol environment on drinking and health in Scotland

Rates of alcohol-related death in Scotland are higher than in the rest of the UK and are among the highest in Europe.  To effectively tackle Scotland’s drinking problem we need to understand its underlying causes; the neighbourhood environment may be one of these causes.  In other countries the density of alcohol outlets (e.g., pubs and off-licences) in the neighbourhood is often linked to increased rates of alcohol consumption and related health outcomes, but we do not know whether this relationship holds true in Scotland.  This ongoing study has been designed to address this gap in the knowledge base.

The study will inform efforts to tackle Scotland’s drinking problem, hence has potential benefits for the wider population.  An important question is whether changing the neighbourhood alcohol environment is an appropriate way to tackle alcohol-related harm.  This study will provide a crucial piece of the puzzle: identifying Scotland-specific evidence for the links between the neighbourhood alcohol environment and health.  Changes to the neighbourhood environment have a great potential to influence the health of the wider public because they are experienced by large sections of the population (as opposed to individualised interventions) and hence offer long-term and sustainable policy potential.

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