What types of alcohol warning statements might be most effective?

There are many studies that examine the effectiveness and impact of alcohol warning labels on consumer perceptions and behaviour (See Wilkinson and Room, 2009 for a recent review).  Many of the published studies have evaluated the USA warning label that was introduced in 1989 (for example the stream of research by Greenfield and colleagues from the Alcohol Research Group at Berkeley.  However, the focus on the USA warning has restricted insight within the field because there are many potential statements/messages that could be employed.  This is particularly a problem since the USA warning is very specific, focusing on not drinking during pregnancy and alerting drinkers that alcohol impairs their ability to drive and operate machinery.  The warning does state that consumption of alcoholic beverages may cause health problems but doesn’t state which, or to what extent the consumer may be at risk. Thus, the warning is limited and is not targeted at engendering responsible consumption beyond avoiding drinking alcohol under the specific situations mentioned. As a result there is a need to widen the focus and consider a range of message themes and styles.


Giesbrecht (2007) suggested that researchers need to be aware of alcohol epidemiology and design interventions to highlight the most significant health problems that are caused by the overconsumption of alcohol.  Researchers are now turning their attention towards improving the efficacy of alcohol warning labels and this section looks at results from recent studies that move beyond the early studies evaluating the USA warning label.