Abstracts of some of Robin Room's papers - 0

Paglia, A.; Room, R. Expectancies about the effects of alcohol on the self and on others as determinants of alcohol policy attitudes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29(12): 2632-2651, 1999.

The relationships between the expectancies about the effects of alcohol and attitudes toward alcohol policy are discussed. The study brings together two lines of research in the alcohol field, alcohol expectancies and policy attitudes. The study tests the hypothesis that it is concern about the intoxicated behaviors of others rather than of oneself that leads to a desire for tighter alcohol controls. Expectancies concerning the short- and long-term effects of drinking were predicted to be stronger determinants of support for alcohol controls when the target person was not oneself but someone else. The research sample included 804 Ontario, Canada adults, aged 18 years and over, who responded to a telephone interview consisting of 195 items, in the summer of 1992. The study results indicated that people were more likely to expect alcohol to have a greater effect on others than on themselves and that these other- expectancies were among the strongest predictors of favoring tighter alcohol controls. It is suggested that this self-other discrepancy in susceptibility to alcohol effects may be a result of deflated perceptions of others. It appears that fear of the crazed or uncontrollable drunk underlies the conviction that it is others in society whose behavior must be contained by rules and regulations. It is suggested that public information about the association between drinking and negative effects on others may serve to increase support for alcohol controls. 39 Ref.

Room, R. Idea of alcohol policy. Nordisk Alkohol- & narkotikatidskrift (Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs ), 16(English Supplement):7-20, 1999.

This article examines the diversity of responsibilities for alcohol policy development and the conceptualization of alcohol-related problems in modern governments. Responsibilities often are fragmented among different departments and agencies. A need exists for bringing conceptual order to alcohol policies by considering the main interests of the state and their main tasks with regard to alcohol-related problems. A study is included of alcohol-related terminology used in the ETOH database as a reflection of how alcohol policy is conceptualized in the literature. The influence of alcoholic beverage control systems in English-speaking countries is reviewed, and options are presented for promoting and maintaining a holistic perspective on alcohol issues. The current alcohol policy situation in Europe and the competing influences at work are examined. It is noted that the Nordic viewpoint on the need for improved programs for prevention and management of alcohol- related problems is attracting new interest. 44 Ref.

Ustun, T.B.; Rehm, J.; Chatterji, S.; Saxena, S.; Trotter, R.; Room, R.; Bickenbach, J.; WHO/NIH Joint Project CAR Study Group Multiple-informant ranking of the disabling effects of different health conditions in 14 countries. Lancet, 354(9173):111-115, 1999.

The Global Burden of Disease study provided international statistics on the burden of diseases, combining mortality and disability, that can be used for priority setting and policy making. However, there are concerns about the universality of the disability weights used. The authors undertook a study to investigate the stability of such weighting in different countries and informant groups. They asked 241 key informants from 14 countries to rank 17 health conditions, including alcoholism and drug dependence, from most disabling to least disabling. For 13 of 17 health conditions, there were significant differences in ranking between countries; in the comparison of informant groups, there were significant differences for five of the 17 health conditions. The overall rank order in the present study was, however, almost identical to the ranking of the Global Burden of Disease study, which used a different method. Most of the rank correlations between countries were between 0.50 and 0.70. The average correlation of rank orders between different informant groups was 0.76. It is concluded that rank order of disabling effects of health conditions is relatively stable across countries, informant groups, and methods. However, the differences are large enough to cast doubt on the assumption of universality of experts' judgments about disability weights. Further studies are needed because disability weights are central to the calculation of disability-adjusted life years. 18 Ref.

Room, R., Rossow, I.: Share of violence attributable to drinking: What do we need to know and what research is needed? Alcohol & Crime: Research and Practice for Prevention. Alcohol Policy XII Conference Washington, DC: 11 Jun-14 Jun 2000. 91 p (pp. 41-54)

About 40 percent of violence offenders in state and local jails in the United State has been drinking at the time of the offense for which they were jailed. The causal role of alcohol in the commission of violent crimes, however, is a controversial issue. One source of the controversy about the causal nature of alcohol in violent crime has been the definition of cause, with some researchers requiring that to be considered causal, the presence of alcohol must be necessary and sufficient for a violent crime to occur. Rather than adopting such a stringent position, it seems much more reasonable to consider the epidemiology of violence in the same way one would consider the epidemiology of disease. While it is clear, for instance, that smoking is an important_if not the most important_causal factor in the occurrence of lung cancer, not all smokers get cancer and not all cancer victims are smokers. In the same way, not all violent crimes involve alcohol and not all people under the influence of alcohol commit violent crimes. Ample evidence does exist, however, that more drinking tends to result in more violence and less drinking in less violence.

Room, R.; Jernigan, D. The ambiguous role of alcohol in economic and social development. Addiction, 95(12, suppl.4):523-535, 2001.

An increased and industrialized alcohol supply in a developing society is usually assumed to have positive effects on economic development, although it may be recognized that the effects on public health and order will be negative. There has been little attention to the potential for negative effects on the economic side. This paper directs attention to such factors as unemployment for cottage producers (often female heads of household) and reduced industrial employment as highly-automated "turnkey" brewers are installed. On the other hand, changes in the mode of production of alcoholic beverages may have little impact on the much larger work-force involved in serving or selling alcohol in retail trade. The net contribution of an increased and industrialized alcohol supply in terms of economic development is unclear, but industrialization and development bring with them increased demands for attention and sobriety, e.g. in motorized traffic and on the production line, which increased drinking may undercut. Decisions by international development agencies on investment in alcohol production and distribution should take account of both the positive and negative impacts on economic development as well as on public health. In line with this, the World Bank has recently decided to invest in alcohol industry projects only when there is a strong positive development impact and the project is "consistent with public health issues and social policy concerns".

Room, R.: Alcohol Issues in Developing Societies. Paper presented at the WHO Conference on Young People and Alcohol, Stockholm, February 19.-21., 2001.

The paper discusses the findings of a WHO-affiliated project on alcohol policy in developing societies. Patterns of drinking and heavy drinking in developing societies are very diverse, reflecting a variety of factors, including differences in the position of alcohol in traditional cultures, colonial and post-colonial experiences, and diversities in social organization and level of development. Abstinence is much commoner in many developing societies than most places in Europe. On the other hand, in many developing societies, drinking-related problems are more serious than would be suggested by the apparent per capita consumption. Factors behind this often include high levels of unrecorded consumption, the interaction of poor social and physical environments with drinking, and a concentration of drinking into episodes of intoxication.

In the context of the developing world, attention needs to be paid to alcohol's role in violence and traffic and other casualties and in family and other social problems, as well as in chronic health problems. The large role alcohol plays in many social and health problems is demonstrated by studies of what has happened with major changes in alcohol consumption levels in developing societies and in eastern Europe. Case studies of prevention and policy measures support the conclusion that, if there is the will for it in the policy arena, there are effective ways of reducing rates of alcohol problems in developing societies.

Room, R.: The Effect of Alcohol Control Policies. Paper presented at the WHO Conference on Young People and Alcohol, Stockholm, February 19.-21., 2001.

Drawing on the work of an ongoing WHO-affiliated project on alcohol problems and policy, the presentation reviews the evidence for the effectiveness of alcohol control policies, i.e. government interventions in the market for alcohol beverages aimed at reducing rates of alcohol-related harm. Such policies can regulate the product, the provider or seller, the conditions of sale, and who may purchase or consume. There is good evidence that a number of specific alcohol control measures can reduce such adverse social and health consequences as domestic and other violence, traffic and other casualties, and cirrhosis and other chronic health conditions. While the control measure may have this effect by reducing the total consumption of alcohol in the population, in some instances it has reduced the rates of problems without affecting total consumption. Thus measures may have a particular impact on high-risk drinkers. In particular, young drinkers are often more strongly affected by alcohol control measures.
Alcohol control measures for which there is good evidence of effectiveness in reducing consumption or harm include alcohol taxes, minimum drinking age laws, restrictions on the hours, days and conditions of sale, restrictions on the number and location of outlets, enforced rules against serving the intoxicated, and rationing. Specific structures for alcohol control, such as government retail monopolies and alcohol licensing and control agencies, are efficient means for implementing many of these measures.
Alcohol control measures are not in themselves an adequate alcohol policy, but they have an important role in such a policy.

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