Student estimations of peer alcohol consumption : links between the social norms approach and the health promoting university concept
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Scandinavian journal of public health. - Oslo
, p. 52-59
University of Antwerp
Background: The Social Norms Approach, with its focus on positive behaviour and its consensus orientation, is a health promotion intervention of relevance to the context of a Health Promoting University. In particular, the approach could assist with addressing excessive alcohol consumption. Aim: This article aims to discuss the link between the Social Norms Approach and the Health Promoting University, and analyse estimations of peer alcohol consumption among European university students. Methods: A total of 4392 students from universities in six European countries and Turkey were asked to report their own typical alcohol consumption per day and to estimate the same for their peers of same sex. Students were classified as accurate or inaccurate estimators of peer alcohol consumption. Socio-demographic factors and personal alcohol consumption were examined as predictors for an accurate estimation. Results: 72% of male and 51% of female students were identified as having accurate estimations about the amount of alcoholic drinks consumed per day by their peers. Male students, older students, those studying year 3 and above, and Turkish and Danish students were more likely to accurately estimate their peers' alcohol consumption. Independent from these factors, students' accurate estimation of peers' drinking decreased significantly with increasing personal consumption. Conclusions: As accurate estimates of peer alcohol consumption appear to affect personal drinking behaviour positively, Social Norms interventions targeted at correcting possible misperceptions about peer alcohol use among students may be a useful health promotion tool in the context of a Health Promoting University.