25 January 2019 In General Health

Research that is poorly communicated or presented is as potentially damaging as research that is poorly conducted or fraudulent. Recent examples illustrate how the problem often lies with researchers, not press officers or journalists. The quest for publication and 'impact' must not outweigh the importance of accurate representation of science; herein, we suggest steps that researchers, journalists and press officers can take to help ensure this.

27 July 2018 In Social and Cultural Aspects

Young people frequently display alcohol-related posts ("alcoholposts") on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram. Although evidence exists that such posts may be linked with increases in alcohol consumption, hardly any studies have focused on the content of such posts. This study addresses this gap by applying and extending the alcoholpost-typology previously proposed by Hendriks, Gebhardt, and van den Putte. A content analysis assessed the extent to which alcoholposts were displayed on Facebook and/or Instagram profiles of young participants (12-30 years; N = 192), and which type of alcoholpost these posts most strongly resembled. Moderate alcoholposts (e.g., in which alcohol was in the background) were most often posted. At times, textual alcoholposts and commercial alcoholposts were also displayed; however, extreme posts (e.g., about drunk people or drinking-games) were almost nonexistent. These findings confirm the previous results by Hendriks et al. that moderate posts are more frequently posted than extreme posts. This could imply that positive associations with alcohol consumption are more visible on social media than negative associations, potentially leading to an underestimation of alcohol-related risks.

'Responsible drinking' campaigns emerged in the early 1970s as a means of addressing hazardous drinking and its related consequences. While these were initially the product of public health agencies and health-related NGOs, they are increasingly being developed and disseminated by the alcohol industry. There is considerable debate as to whether industry-generated campaigns are designed to reduce hazardous drinking and related problems (as argued by their developers) or are designed to avoid government regulation or even to increase sales. The aim of the present study was to explore the way that recent industry-developed responsible drinking campaigns are perceived and interpreted by the general public. That is, do they promote low-risk drinking, promote risky drinking, or just muddy the waters. Two sub-studies were conducted. The first, a mall intercept study with 180 adults in two Australian shopping districts, explored participants' understanding of slogans/taglines. The second, an online survey with 480 Australian adults, explored understandings and interpretations of television/online commercials. The results of the two studies revealed diversity in participants' interpretation of the 'responsible drinking' advertisements. Terminology utilised in industry-developed advertisements was found to be ambiguous; for example, what age group was being referred to in the tagline 'Kids and alcohol don't mix', and whether 'Drink Properly' meant not drinking to excess or drinking in a way that made you look more sophisticated. In Study Two, the government-developed campaign ('Know when to say when') was clearly interpreted as warning against risky consumption of alcohol; whereas the industry-developed campaigns ('How to drink properly', 'Kids absorb your drinking', 'Friends are waiting') were interpreted to have a range of different meanings, including some seemingly unrelated to alcohol. These findings are consistent with the literature evaluating anti-smoking campaigns developed by the tobacco industry, and previous research showing that industry communications serve to soften public opinion and create the impression of a 'socially responsible' industry but are likely to be less effective than initiatives focused on the availability and promotion of alcohol
26 April 2017 In Cardiovascular System

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the association between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease at higher resolution by examining the initial lifetime presentation of 12 cardiac, cerebrovascular, abdominal, or peripheral vascular diseases among five categories of consumption.

DESIGN: Population based cohort study of linked electronic health records covering primary care, hospital admissions, and mortality in 1997-2010 (median follow-up six years).

SETTING: CALIBER (ClinicAl research using LInked Bespoke studies and Electronic health Records).

PARTICIPANTS: 1 937 360 adults (51% women), aged >/=30 who were free from cardiovascular disease at baseline.

MAIN OUTCOME: measures 12 common symptomatic manifestations of cardiovascular disease, including chronic stable angina, unstable angina, acute myocardial infarction, unheralded coronary heart disease death, heart failure, sudden coronary death/cardiac arrest, transient ischaemic attack, ischaemic stroke, intracerebral and subarachnoid haemorrhage, peripheral arterial disease, and abdominal aortic aneurysm.

RESULTS: 114 859 individuals received an incident cardiovascular diagnosis during follow-up. Non-drinking was associated with an increased risk of unstable angina (hazard ratio 1.33, 95% confidence interval 1.21 to 1.45), myocardial infarction (1.32, 1.24 to1.41), unheralded coronary death (1.56, 1.38 to 1.76), heart failure (1.24, 1.11 to 1.38), ischaemic stroke (1.12, 1.01 to 1.24), peripheral arterial disease (1.22, 1.13 to 1.32), and abdominal aortic aneurysm (1.32, 1.17 to 1.49) compared with moderate drinking (consumption within contemporaneous UK weekly/daily guidelines of 21/3 and 14/2 units for men and women, respectively). Heavy drinking (exceeding guidelines) conferred an increased risk of presenting with unheralded coronary death (1.21, 1.08 to 1.35), heart failure (1.22, 1.08 to 1.37), cardiac arrest (1.50, 1.26 to 1.77), transient ischaemic attack (1.11, 1.02 to 1.37), ischaemic stroke (1.33, 1.09 to 1.63), intracerebral haemorrhage (1.37, 1.16 to 1.62), and peripheral arterial disease (1.35; 1.23 to 1.48), but a lower risk of myocardial infarction (0.88, 0.79 to 1.00) or stable angina (0.93, 0.86 to 1.00).

CONCLUSIONS: Heterogeneous associations exist between level of alcohol consumption and the initial presentation of cardiovascular diseases. This has implications for counselling patients, public health communication, and clinical research, suggesting a more nuanced approach to the role of alcohol in prevention of cardiovascular disease is necessary.

Registration clinicaltrails.gov (NCT01864031)

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