A typology of alcohol consumption among young people – A narrative synthesis

Martin P Davoren, Mary Cronin,, Ivan J Perry,, Jakob Demant,, Frances Shiely,, Karl O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
301 Downloads (Pure)


Background Currently, alcohol consumption levels are significantly higher among younger age groups. However, previous research has noted the diversity of motivations and patterns. These patterns of drinking have yet to be synthesised into a typology. The aim of the current study was to synthesise information from studies that produced types of alcohol consumption among young people. Method Quantitative and qualitative literature investigating the different types of drinkers among young people [aged 12–24 years], published in peer reviewed journals, were eligible for inclusion in this systematic review. MEDLINE, PsychInfo and CINAHL were systematically searched for relevant articles published between January 1st 2000 and December 31st 2014. Included papers were critically appraised. A narrative synthesis approach was employed based on guidance from the UK Economic and Social Research Council. Results In total, 13 studies were eligible for inclusion: 11 quantitative, one qualitative and one mixed methods. Six classes of drinkers were formed within this typology. Abstainers reported no alcohol consumption. Light drinkers reported drinking small amounts of alcohol infrequently. In comparison, social and hedonistic drinkers drank most in social situations and to have fun. Heavy and harmful consumers reported increased volume and frequency of consumption including harmful consequences. Conclusion Currently, policy makers are attempting to combat the high levels of harmful alcohol consumption among young people. The current typology provides guidance for targeted interventions in addition to a practical analytic tool in future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-273
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Issue number4
Early online date22 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2016


  • policy
  • alcohol
  • public health
  • Typology
  • review
  • narrative synthesis,
  • young people


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