Problem Drinking in First - Year Students at the University of Zagreb

By Franelic, Iva Pejnovic; Zoricic, Zoran et al. | Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research, January 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Problem Drinking in First - Year Students at the University of Zagreb


Franelic, Iva Pejnovic, Zoricic, Zoran, Kern, Josipa, Kolaric, Branko, Markelic, Martina, Palavra, Irena Rojnic, Kuzman, Marina, Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research


INTRODUCTION

The university environment has a significant role in shaping student behaviours and needs to be such that it does not support a heavy drinking culture. The harms and risks associated with heavy drinking are well documented. The brains of young people are still developing during the late teens and early 20s and drinking heavily can negatively impact areas of the brain related to executive functioning such as paying attention, planning and making decisions, processing emotions, and controlling impulses leading to irrational behaviour.1

Historically, men have always consumed more alcohol than women. This is still the case but women are catching up to their male counterparts. This is especially the case with young women.2 Harms and risks for both genders include injuries resulting from assaults, motor vehicle crashes, driving with someone who is impaired, sexual assault, unplanned sexual activity and unprotected sex. Harms to health include a range of acute and chronic health impacts that exist along a continuum of severity and that include death.3 Enrolment in college and not living with parents is associated with higher rates of heavy alcohol use.4 In the period of the transition to adulthood, when academic life can carry with it enormous social, academic, emotional and financial pressures, many students consume alcohol and drunkenness is increasingly becoming the norm.5 Alcohol use among adolescents and college students is also associated with a broad array of risk behaviours, including tobacco use and drinking and driving.6

SUBJECTS AND METHODS

The aim of this analysis was to investigate problem drinking among first year university students in Zagreb. The data used were obtained from the research about health behaviours and perception of preventive activities of first year university students in Zagreb which was part of the scientific project of the Ministry of science, education and sport »Characteristics, trends and determinants of addictive behaviour in youth«, 2009. Target group were 2009 students from the first year university studies at the University of Zagreb. The sample size was 15% of the regular first year univer- sity students. The sample was stratified by gender and type of university studies. 1939 students (900 males, 1039 females) agreed to participate in the survey and correctly filled out questionnaires. The responders rate was 96%.

By division of the University of Zagreb, faculties were divided by the type of study program in the field of natural sciences, technical, biomedical, biotechnical, social sciences and humanities and the artistic field.

Instrument: The instrument was modified and expanded ESPAD (European School Survey on Alcohol and Other Drugs) questionnaire. Questionnaire is used in the international ESPAD research and it is a structured, internationally harmonized questionnaire. For the purpose of this research among university students standard questionnaire was expanded to comprehensively reflect behaviours that students conduct as a more grown up population including assessment of drinking habits. Data were collected during the systematic exams at the school medicine services from the Public Health Institute Dr. Andrija Stampar. Students participated in the study anonymously; no identification data were taken of individual students, so there is no possibility of identifying them. Anonymity is further strengthened by the fact that all students themselves, after filling put in their questionnaires in the provided boxes, were then sent to the Croatian National Institute of Public Health.

Measurements: Alcohol use was assessed by asking students on how many occasions (if any) did they drink alcoholic beverage during the last 30 days. Response options were: 0, 1-2, 3-5, 6-9, 10-19, 20-39, 40 or more. Students who answered »0« and »1-2« (less than three times) were compared to those who answered »3-5«, »6-9«, »10-19«, »20-39«, »40 or more« (more than three times). …

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