Alcohol use in adolescence: Identifying harms related to teenager’s alcohol drinking

Objective: To examine experienced harms of alcohol drinking among Finnish teenagers using two methodologically different question sets: open-ended versus structured questions. In this article, we further assess whether open-ended questions lead to similar or different answers regarding alcohol-related harms compared with structured questions.

Method: Nationally representative data were obtained from two cross-sectional surveys: Adolescent Health and Lifestyle Survey (AHLS) based on mailed questionnaires (2001) and the school-based European School Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) (2003). Samples comprised 14-16-year-olds in AHLS (n = 4766) and 15-16-year-olds in ESPAD (n = 3321).

Results and conclusion: Teenagers report quite a variety of harms due to their own alcohol drinking. However, the most commonly reported alcohol-related harms were substantially different, depending on the method of answering. Therefore, particular attention should be paid to the question method when researching alcohol-related consequences among adolescents: open questions may prove useful in revealing many of the current harms of adolescent alcohol drinking, but these might fail to gain responses for issues considered sensitive, which in turn may be obtainable via closed questions. Adolescents' own experiences of alcohol-related harms should be noted when planning and implementing interventions to prevent underage alcohol use and related harms.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    H.M.Lavikainen T.P.Lintonen
  • Issue

    Journal of Substance Use / pages 39-48 / volume 14
  • Published Date