Alcohol-related harm to others in England: A cross-sectional analysis of national survey data

Caryl Beynon*, David Bayliss, Jenny Mason, Kate Sweeney, Clare Perkins, Clive Henn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives To estimate the prevalence, the frequency and the perpetrators of alcohol-related harm to others (AHTO) and identify factors associated with experiencing harm and aggressive harm. Design Cross-sectional survey. Setting England. Participants Adults (general population) aged 16 and over. Outcome measures Percentage of respondents who experienced harm. Socioeconomic and demographic factors associated with the outcomes. Outcomes were (1) experienced harm/did not experience harm and (2) experienced aggressive harm (physically threatened, physically hurt and forced/pressured into something sexual)/did not experience an aggressive harm (no aggressive harm plus no harm at all). Results Data to support a response rate calculation were not collected; 96.3% of people surveyed completed the AHTO questions. The weighted sample was 4874; 20.1% (95% CI 18.9 to 21.4, N=980) reported experiencing harm in the previous 12 months and 4.6% (95% CI 4.0 to 5.4, N=225) reported experiencing an aggressive harm. Friends and strangers were the dominant perpetrators. Most harms (74.8%) occurred less than monthly. Factors associated with experiencing harm were: younger age (p<0.001), drinking harmfully/hazardously (p<0.001), white British (p<0.001 compared to other white groups and Asian groups and p=0.017 compared to black groups), having a disability (p<0.001), being educated (p<0.001 compared to no education) and living in private rented accommodation (p=0.004 compared with owned outright). Being in the family stage of life (defined as having children in the household) had significantly lower odds of harm (p=0.006 compared to being single), as did being retired (p<0.001 compared to being employed). Factors associated with experiencing an aggressive harm were similar. Conclusions This exploratory study, using data collected through the Alcohol Toolkit Survey, shows that AHTO affects 20.1% of the population of England. Even apparently minor harms, like being kept awake, can have a negative impact on health, while aggressive harms are clearly of concern. Using a standard methodology to measure harm across studies would be advantageous. Policies that focus on alcohol must take into consideration the impact of drinking on those other than the drinker.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere021046
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
the Five Nations Public Health Peer Network for initiating this work and to PHE for funding it. Thanks also to the following people in PHE: Craig Timpson for quality assuring the analyses, Helen Outhwaite for help with searching for literature, Robyn Burton and Helen Willey for their input into early conversations about methods and Fionnuala O’Toole and Alyson Jones for proofreading/editing the paper. Thanks to Dr Jamie Brown, University College London, for permitting the harm to others questions to be appended to the ATS and for his subsequent support with interpretation of the alcohol toolkit survey questions. Thanks to Ipsos MORI for delivering the survey, in particular Stuart Smedley. Finally, thanks to the four reviewers for their comments on this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Author(s).

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • alcohol
  • alcohol-related harm to others
  • violence


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