The majority of the alcohol industry’s actions around the world to reduce drinking and driving either lack evidence of effectiveness or have not been studied, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research suggests.
Reporting February 18 in the American Journal of Public Health, the researchers analyzed the content of 266 initiatives the alcohol industry implemented around the world to reduce drinking and driving between 1982 and 2015.
They found that the most commonly used industry initiatives — including designated driver programs, ride services and mass media campaigns — lack evidence of effectiveness or have not been studied. For instance, while ride services may reduce drinking and driving, people may actually consume more alcohol, which can increase the risk of other negative outcomes such as violence and injuries, the researchers say. Additionally, mass media campaigns with messages to drivers about reducing their alcohol consumption are generally ineffective unless they are rigorously planned and executed, and used alongside other evidence-based interventions.
Over the past 30 years, the alcohol industry has implemented more than 3,500 initiatives around the world to reduce harmful drinking as part of their corporate social responsibility business practices. Along with individual alcohol corporations, many of these programs are led by industry trade associations and public relations organizations funded by the industry. Fewer than 3 percent of the industry actions listed a health-related agency as a partner.
“Our findings suggest that almost none of the alcohol industry’s efforts to reduce drinking and driving were based on what scientific evidence has told us can work to improve public health,” says study supervisor Dr. Adnan A. Hyder a professor in the department of international health at the Bloomberg School.