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Review of rural and regional alcohol research in Australia
journal contributionposted on 2010-06-01, 00:00 authored by Peter MillerPeter Miller, Kerri CoomberKerri Coomber, Petra StaigerPetra Staiger, Lucille Zinkiewicz, John ToumbourouJohn Toumbourou
INTRODUCTION: Alcohol is the most commonly used drug within Australia. Recently, there have been indications that there is a greater incidence of high-risk drinking within rural populations as compared with their urban counterparts. High-risk drinking is associated with numerous conditions, such as diabetes, heart attack and cancer, as well as acute harms such as assault, suicide and road accidents. The objective of this article is to review the current research and relevant data pertaining to alcohol use and alcohol-related harms within rural Australia. METHODS: This paper is a systematic review of 16 databases, including PubMed, PsycINFO and Google Scholar. RESULTS: Overall, 18 studies describing alcohol consumption or alcohol-related harms were found. Approximately half of these studies were large-scale national population surveys, which were therefore limited in their representativeness of specific regional and rural towns. Most studies examining alcohol consumption used self-report data collection, meaning that interpretation of results needs to be tentative. There is a consistent pattern of higher rates of alcohol consumption and consequent harm within regional and rural Australia than in urban areas. CONCLUSIONS: There is emerging research examining alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms within regional and rural Australia. All studies show that these populations experience disproportionate harm because of alcohol consumption. The causes and mechanism for this have not been investigated, and a program of research is required to understand how and why rural populations experience disproportionate levels of alcohol-related harm and ultimately, what interventions will be most effective in reducing alcohol-related harms.