Do alcohol control policies work? An umbrella review and quality assessment of systematic reviews of alcohol control interventions (2006– 2017)

ALcohol May CHW

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The 2010 World Health Organization Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol recommends countries adopt evidence-based interventions. A recent review in PLOS One updated, summarized, and appraised the methodological rigor of systematic reviews of selected alcohol control interventions in the Strategy. The authors identified 42 systematic reviews. Most reviews identified only observational studies with no studies from low or lower-middle income (LMIC) countries. Ten reviews were rated as low risk of bias. Methodological deficiencies included publication and language limits, no duplicate assessment, no assessment of study quality, and no integration of quality into result interpretation. We evaluated the following control measures as possibly beneficial: 1) community mobilization; 2) multi-component interventions in the drinking environment; 3) restricting alcohol advertising; 4) restricting on- and off-premise outlet density; 5) police patrols and ignition locks to reduce drink driving; and 6) increased price and taxation including minimum unit pricing.  The authors concluded that robust and well-reported research synthesis is deficient in the alcohol control field despite the availability of clear methodological guidance. The lack of primary and synthesis research arising from LMIC should be prioritized globally.

Citation: Siegfried N, Parry C. Do alcohol control policies work? An umbrella review and quality assessment of systematic reviews of alcohol control interventions (2006–2017). PLoS One. 2019 Apr 10;14(4):e0214865.

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