Online Program

An alcohol policy scale to characterize the alcohol policy environment in u.s. states

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 10:50 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.

Jason Blanchette, MPH, Section of General Internal Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA
Toben F. Nelson, ScD, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Ziming Xuan, ScD, SM, MA, Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Timothy Heeren, PhD, Department of Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Thien Nguyen, MPH, Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Timothy S. Naimi, MD, MPH, Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
Background: Alcohol control policies can reduce excessive alcohol consumption and related harms, but they are typically evaluated individually in isolation from one another. A measure is needed to characterize the alcohol control environment and groups of policies in each state.

Methods: A panel of 10 alcohol policy experts nominated and rated the efficacy of state-level alcohol policies for reducing outcomes in four domains: adult binge drinking, youth binge drinking, adult drinking and driving, and youth drinking and driving. Furthermore, a system was developed for rating the implementation of specific policies based on the presence or absence of specific provisions. Data on 29 state-level alcohol policies were from the Alcohol Policy Information System and other data sources and weighted by efficacy and implementation to derive a measure of the alcohol policy environment for all four outcome domains by state and year from 1999-2011(a sample of n=650 state-years).

Results: The Alcohol Policy Scale (APS) for each outcome domain showed substantial variation between states; APS scores were generally normally distributed. There was strong internal consistency among five methods of calculating the APS scores (r>0.50 between all methods).

Summary: It is feasible to measure the aggregate alcohol policy environment in the United States. In future research we will examine the relationship between APS scores and alcohol-related outcomes. Policy scales can play an important role in understanding how policy can influence patterns of alcohol use and related outcomes.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain the benefits of conducting policy research using a scale compared to isolating individual policies.

Keyword(s): Alcohol, Public Health Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a project coordinator for alcohol policy studies including the one that led to this abstract and presentation. I oversaw the development of our policy database which currently has over 80,000 data elements on 29 alcohol policies.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.