To compare patterns of alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm from a survey of university students sampled from universities in Denmark, England, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland.
A total of 2191 university students (70% female, 90% white ethnic group, age range 18–25) completed the survey. Participants completed measures of demographic variables (age, age of onset, ethnic group and sex) and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), which was the primary outcome.
Sixty-three percent of the sample scored negative for harmful drinking on the AUDIT (<8), with 30% categorized as hazardous drinkers, 4% harmful drinkers and 3% with probable dependence. Analysis of variance, including demographic factors as covariates, identified a main effect of country on AUDIT scores F(5, 2086) = 70.97, P < 0.001, partial eta square = 0.15. AUDIT scores were highest in England (M = 9.99; SD = 6.17) and Denmark (M = 9.52; SD = 4.86) and lowest in Portugal (M = 4.90; ° = 4.60). Post hoc tests indicated large effect size differences between scores in Denmark and England and scores in all other countries (0.79 < d < 0.94; all P’s < 0.001).
European university students in our sample mainly reported low risk patterns of alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm. However, students from Northern European countries had significantly higher AUDIT scores compared with students from Central and Southern European countries. Research is needed to replicate the present study using nationally representative samples to estimate the prevalence of alcohol use disorders among university students in different European countries.