The relationship between membership of a university sports group and drinking behaviour among students at English Universities.

Sarah Partington, Elizabeth Partington, Nick Heather, Fran Longstaff, Susan Allsop, Mark Jankowski, Helen Wareham, Richard Stephens, Alan St Clair Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Aims The primary aim is to report on whether or not students who are members of UK university sport groups drink more heavily and/or are more at risk for alcohol-related harm than students not engaged in university sport. A secondary aim is to compare alcohol consumption levels and alcohol-related problems in UK university athletes involved in firstly sports broadly differentiated as team or individual and secondly competing at different levels. Method A cross-sectional survey using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and a demographic questionnaire was carried out with a purposive sample of 770 undergraduates (298 male, 471 female) from seven UK universities. Results Members of university sport groups (n = 181) had a median AUDIT score of 11.5 (interquartile range = 8) compared to students not engaged in university sport (n = 588) median AUDIT score of 8 (interquartile range = 11). The difference between these medians was highly significant (p <0.01). There was a significant difference between the median scores of members of team (n = 103 median = 13, IQR = 8) and individual sports members (median = 8, IQR = 11), with team sports members scoring higher on the AUDIT (p <0.01). There were no significant differences on median AUDIT scores between athletes competing at different levels. Conclusions Levels of alcohol-related risk and harm are high in members of UK university sport groups. Members of university sports groups particularly members of university team sports may be an ‘at risk group’ for alcohol-related problems and require targeted interventions. Further research is warranted comparing the drinking patterns of students engaged in and those not engaged in university sport, and the relationship between sport type, participation level and alcohol consumption
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-347
JournalAddiction Research & Theory
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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