Alcohol consumption and the COVID‑19 pandemic: synthesizing knowledge for policy action

Shield, Kevin D | $47,791

Ontario Centre for Addiction and Mental Health 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

Health researchers are warning that alcohol use and alcohol dependence in many jurisdictions may be increasing due to the COVID‑19 pandemic; however, scientific evidence is sparse on the impact of the pandemic on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms (e.g., violence against women and children). Thus, a comprehensive understanding of the impact of COVID‑19 on short-term and long-term alcohol use and related health harms is urgently needed to inform policy and practice. The proposed project will result in the rapid (within one month of project commencement) production of evidence-informed guidelines for alcohol control policy recommendations. Guidelines will be updated monthly as more information is synthesized by the research team. The guidelines will be based on the following three unique research projects: 1. A systematic scoping review which will a) assess the current state of knowledge regarding how similar crises (e.g., economic crises and natural disasters) affect alcohol consumption and resulting health harms, and b) assess the applicability and/or transferability of these data to the current pandemic context. 2. An analysis of existing data sources, including general population survey data and alcohol sales data, to examine changes in alcohol consumption in Canada since the start of the COVID‑19 pandemic. 3. Individual and group interviews with a diverse set of experts to synthesize knowledge from multiple disciplines and to reach consensus on a) the expected short- and long-term impact of the current pandemic on alcohol consumption and related health harms, and b) policy actions required to minimize the negative health effects from increased alcohol consumption during the current pandemic and future crises. The results will inform and assist policy makers in determining which alcohol policies should be implemented during the current pandemic and future crises to mitigate alcohol-related harms.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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