Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of social marketing programs in preventing drunk driving, and how protection motivation theory (PMT) can be used to create effective anti drunk driving communications.

Design/methodology/approach – Communication and program materials aimed at reducing drunk driving were identified and gathered from English-language websites from the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, and a qualitative review was conducted.

Findings – The review provides a description of the key themes and messages being used in anti drunk driving campaigns, as well as target population, campaign components, and sources of funding. A key facet of this review is the examination of the use of PMT in social marketing campaigns designed to prevent drunk driving.

Originality/value – The review presents social marketing campaigns aimed at preventing drunk driving in English-speaking countries, and shows that PMT can be successfully used in this context. The paper provides a guide for future initiatives, as well as recommendations for social marketing practitioners.

BACKGROUND: The Chief Medical Officer for England has developed the first guidance in England and some of the first internationally on alcohol consumption by children. Using the most recent iteration of a large biennial survey of schoolchildren we measure the extent to which young people's drinking fell within the guidelines just prior to their introduction and the characteristics of individuals whose drinking does not; how alcohol related harms relate to compliance; and risk factors associated with behaving outside of the guidance.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted utilising a self-completed questionnaire with closed questions. A total of 11,879 schoolchildren, aged 15-16 years, from secondary schools in North West England participated in the study. Data were analysed using chi square and conditional logistic regression.

RESULTS: Alcohol consumption is an established norm by age 15 years (81.3%). Acute alcohol related violence, regretted sex and forgetfulness were experienced by significantly fewer children drinking within the guidance (than outside of it). Over half of drinkers (54.7%) reported routinely drinking more heavily than guidance suggests (here >/= 5 drinks/session >/= 1 month), or typically drinking unsupervised at home or at a friend's home when parents were absent (57.4%). Both behaviours were common across all deprivation strata. Children with greater expendable incomes were less likely to consume within guidance and reported higher measures for unsupervised, frequent and heavy drinking. Although drinking due to peer pressure was associated with some measures of unsupervised drinking, those reporting that they drank out of boredom were more likely to report risk-related drinking behaviours outside of the guidance.

CONCLUSIONS: Successful implementation of guidance on alcohol consumption for children could result in substantial reductions in existing levels of alcohol related harms to young people. However, prolonged social marketing, educational and parental interventions will be required to challenge established social norms in heavy and unsupervised child drinking across all social strata. Policy measures to establish a minimum price for alcohol and provide children with entertaining alternatives to alcohol should also increase compliance with guidance.

The social norms marketing approach is one method used to reduce extreme alcohol consumption. The current study implemented a web-based survey (N = 891) to assess whether sensation-seeking, perceived moderate drinking norms, and social norm message believability impacted alcohol consumption on a college campus. Sensation seeking was not directly related to normative perceptions of others' moderate alcohol consumption. Sensation seeking, perceived norms, and message believability all had direct effects on alcohol consumption, and the interaction of sensation seeking and message believability impacted alcohol consumption, while the interaction of sensation seeking and perceived norms on alcohol consumption was marginally significant. Implications of these findings for the social norms marketing approach are discussed.

BACKGROUND: Alcohol education aims to increase knowledge on the harm related to alcohol, and to change attitudes and drinking behaviour. However, little (lasting) evidence has been found for alcohol education, in changing alcohol-related attitudes and behaviour. Social marketing uses marketing techniques to achieve a social or healthy goal, and can be used in alcohol education. Social marketing consists of eight principles: customer orientation, insight, segmentation, behavioural goals, exchange, competition, methods mix, and is theory based. This review investigates the application of social marketing in alcohol prevention interventions, and whether application of social marketing influences alcohol-related attitudes or behaviour.

METHOD: A literature search was conducted in PubMed, PsychInfo, Cochrane and Scopus. Inclusion criteria were that original papers had to describe the effects of an alcohol prevention intervention developed according to one or more principles of social marketing. No limits were set on the age of the participants or on the kind of alcohol prevention intervention. The abstracts of the 274 retrieved studies were reviewed and the full texts of potentially relevant studies were screened.

RESULTS: Six studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in this review. These six studies showed associations for the application of social marketing techniques on alcohol-related attitudes or behaviour; one study relates to participation in a drinking event, four to alcohol drinking behaviour, two to driving a car while under the influence of alcohol, two to recognition of campaign messages or campaign logo, and one to awareness of the campaign. However, no associations were also found. In addition, the studies had several limitations related to a control group, response rate and study methodology.

CONCLUSION: Based on this review, the effect of applying the principles of social marketing in alcohol prevention in changing alcohol-related attitudes or behaviour could not be assessed. More research, with a good quality methodology, like using a randomized control trial and measuring short, medium, and long-term effects, is required on this topic. Policy implications are discussed.

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