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Alcohol and new university students: an investigation into multi-level influences on student drinking behaviour and organisational practice

Brown, Rachel ORCID: 2016. Alcohol and new university students: an investigation into multi-level influences on student drinking behaviour and organisational practice. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Starting university is often associated with increasing levels of alcohol use, resulting in a range of negative outcomes in student populations. Current and historical attempts to moderate consumption have had limited success, often lacking consideration of the full range of influences associated with the behaviour, including the role of the university context. Reflecting socio-ecological approaches emphasising the intersection of personal and social influences, this study considers the role of alcohol in the social processes of first year students undergoing transition. Through organisational analysis, it further examines the development of alcohol processes within the university context providing the setting for transition and the enactment of alcohol behaviour. A case study of one university was conducted using mixed qualitative methods, specifically semi-structured interviews, document analysis and observations of campus alcohol practices. It was established that multi-level influences act to pre-institutionalise students by reinforcing conceptions of identity that normalise excess alcohol use, experienced alongside pre-transition anxieties centred around peer group formation. Post-arrival, alcohol acts to provide commonality for new students, reducing anxiety and facilitating the development of social groups. University processes which present social opportunities as central to initial institutionalisation, act to support the normalisation of heavy alcohol use. This means that safe drinking messages currently attempted within this context contrast with student needs to successfully adapt to their new role, resulting in limited impact. Findings indicate that a multi-level approach to identifying the complex interaction of individual, interpersonal and organisational factors affecting student alcohol use can provide new insights into intervention development, informing effective practice through the identification of barriers and facilitators to strategic planning and delivery.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: MRC, Alcohol Research UK
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 May 2016
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 10:08

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