Measuring alcohol consumption: comparing the Health Survey for England & Understanding Society

Document type
Working Paper
Conolly, Anne
NatCen Social Research
Date of publication
3 October 2016
Health Services, Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

Download (110KB )

This working paper compares how alcohol consumption is measured in the Health Survey for England and Understanding Society.

It looks at why these surveys returned different results for the proportion of people who drink to excess.

Key findings:

  • Evidence suggests that data collected by self-completion gives higher estimates of alcohol consumption than in a face-to-face interview.
  • The alcohol consumption questions used on HSE and Understanding Society differ which may impact on reported levels of consumption.
  • Detailed questions on HSE permit more precise conversion of alcohol type and volume to alcohol units.

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