Drinking and harm reduction

A realistic and fun focus for reducing young people’s drinking?

The people behind Global Drug Survey have just launched a new website called One Too Many. Rather than conveying the usual messages about reducing alcohol units or long term health consequences of drinking, this website aims to help users discover how much of an A.R.S.E (or idiot) they become when drunk.

unit measures

Fun at my Halloween party with my unit measure plastic beakers

One Too Many invites you to answer 20 questions about some of the shameful and less fun consequences of getting drunk.  At the end you’ll receive an Alcohol Related Social Embarrassment (ARSE) Score.  At this point, you can invite your friends to rate how much of an ARSE you are too, as well as sharing your score on social media.

It will be interesting to see what users think of this approach, which hopes to encourages a change in drinking behaviour by targeting our natural desire to be seen in a positive light by friends and peers.  Young people I spoke to about the website certainly agreed that they would feel mortified to admit most of these outcomes. Of most concern was the potential for incriminating pictures to be posted on social media.

It is important to acknowledge that much of the current advice and guidance around alcohol is simply unrealistic in light of young people’s actual experiences.  For example, many people are unaware of what a unit of alcohol actual relates to, and even fewer will be counting their units on a night out.  This means that health campaigns and messages are often ignored, or even laughed at by their intended audience.

Getting your personal ARSE score is a humorous way to get a serious message across, and the content is aimed at young adults.  It is hoped that being confronted by the undesirable scenarios, as well as thinking about friends’ perceptions of their behaviour, will lead users to reconsider their alcohol consumption.  Research is needed to ascertain the effectiveness of this kind of approach, but it certainly has the potential to offer something new.

In my own current research, I’m looking at ways to reduce alcohol misuse in young adolescents under the age of 15.  In this age group it is also important to acknowledge the normative nature of drinking and to develop harm reduction focused interventions that contain credible messages.  This remains challenging, but is an important area for research to reduce alcohol related harm.

Check it out your own ARSE score here – what do you think?



Some selected related references

Boniface, S., Kneale, J., & Shelton, N. (2013). Actual and Perceived Units of Alcohol in a Self-Defined “Usual Glass” of Alcoholic Drinks in England. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37(6), 978-983. doi: 10.1111/acer.12046

De Visser, R. O., & Birch, J. D. (2012). My cup runneth over: Young people’s lack of knowledge of low-risk drinking guidelines. Drug and Alcohol Review, 31(2), 206-212. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2011.00371.x

De Visser, R. O., Wheeler, Z., Abraham, C., & Smith, J. A. (2013). “Drinking is our modern way of bonding”: Young people’s beliefs about interventions to encourage moderate drinking. Psychology & Health, null-null. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2013.828293

Nicholls, J. (2009). Young people, alcohol and the news: preliminary findings (Vol. Alcohol insight 67): Alcohol Research UK.


Developing interventions

Development and specification of novel behavioural interventions

Workshop at the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR) Conference 2013 Paris 13th November 2013

Workshop slides

Comments and feedback welcome


<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”https://www.slideshare.net/i_am_emma/euspr-workshop-final-emma-davies-13th-november-2013&#8243; title=”EUSPR SPAN workshop on developing interventions Emma L Davies” target=”_blank”>EUSPR SPAN workshop on developing interventions Emma L Davies</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/i_am_emma&#8221; target=”_blank”>i_am_emma</a></strong> </div>

Please let me have your comments and feedback below

How Twitter ‘saved’ my PhD

A quick post for a presentation to the Oxford Brookes Health and Life Sciences Social Media Club Friday 8th November

Apparently I once said to Anne Osterrieder that Twitter had saved my PhD.  While not strictly true (it is as yet unsaved), I have benefited from using Twitter during my PhD in many different ways.

Here’s how Twitter ‘saved’ my PhD in five tweets…

1) Networking (conferences and future collaborators)

2) Keeping up with the latest research

3) Seeing your topic from a multidisciplinary perspective and generating debate

4) Research recruitment

Issue with recruitment led to

5) Support from other students

Note: My PhD has not been saved – submitted but not saved 

Blogging workshop at PsyPAG 2013

I tried my first ever storify about the workshop which inspired me to think about blogging.  My reflections on blogging at the start of the workshop were that I had enjoyed learning about it and reading other people’s blogs.   I was not sure if blogging was for me because I had struggled to find the time, think of topics and I was not sure how it could be useful in the future.  My questions were answered by the expert team!

Blogging workshop at PsyPAG 2013

A workshop at the PsyPAG 2013 conferenced aimed to explore the benefits of blogging for postgraduate students. Dr Christian Jarrett from the @ResearchDigest was our guest speaker for the session which was put together by Emma Davies, Fleur Michelle Coiffait, Dan Jolley and Fabio Zucchelli

Delegates were encouraged to think about what they wanted from the session

  1. @I_am_emma: @SarahHennelly wanted to go from blog virgin to blog master #postgradblogs pic.twitter.com/murqaqtZle
  2. @I_am_emma some more photos from #postgradblogs pic.twitter.com/HGTApt0KKy
  3. Emma introduced the sessoion and then Dan and Fabio discussed their blogging hints and tips
  4. #postgradblogs @Fabzucci says there’s a tension between anonymity and exposure : beware of ranting you could be identified
  5. #postgradblogs @MrDanielJolley highlights some research based blogs – getting academic work more widely disseminated
  6. #postgradblogs @Fabzucci has contributed to @Mental_Elf using accessible language to summarise systematic reviews #PsyPAG2013
    • Postgrads shared their blogs with us – here are some examples
  7. #postgradblogs #PsyPAG2013 @jennacondie wrote a piece for @socphd gained hight level of exposure socphd.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/don…
  8. #Postgradblogs Is blogging self indulgent? @I_am_emma wrote a post on this alcoholresearch.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/is-… #PsyPAG2013
  9. #postgradblogs #PsyPAG2013 @Fabzucci shares his experiences of blogging: See here the-introspector27.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1
  10. Our special guest and expert blogger was Dr Christian Jarrett and he gave us a history of science blogging as well as sharing his experiences – the good and the bad
  11. hearing from @Psych_Writer about how he got into blogging and joined @ResearchDigest #postgradblogs #PsyPAG2013 pic.twitter.com/HAlXfICqkI
  12. #postgradblogs #PsyPAG2013 @Psych_Writer now talking us through his personal experiences starting with @mindhacksblog in 2005
  13. #PsyPAG2013 #postgradblogs be careful as blog posts can spread around the world eg bps-research-digest.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/wine-t…
  14. #postgradblogs #PsyPAG2013 @Psych_Writer now also contributes to @99u translating research into something actionable
  15. Things were not always well received !
  16. Did you get your phd from the back of a cereal box? One of the less offensive critiques that @Psych_Writer had #postgradblogs #PsyPAG2013
  17. Feedback on the workshop was positive and we have encouraged one postgrad to start blogging already
  18. .@I_am_emma @Psych_Writer Can’t recommend blogging as a student enough scilogs.com/sifting_the_ev… #postgradblogs
  19. Finding all of the #postgradblogs tweets interesting, will definitely be having a read through blogs later and finding tips for my own
  20. Inspired by last wks #PsyPAG2013 blogging workshop, I have started a blog! Pls feel free to follow 🙂 #postgradblogs bit.ly/18A2JY4
  21. We really enjoyed the session, thanks to everyone who came along and shared their thoughts and experiences. We look forward to reading your blog posts in the near future
  22. Some photos from #postgradblogs : what did delegates want from the session? pic.twitter.com/IQvMPoCfG7
  23. @TheCyberPsyche had been inspired to start at blog #postgradblogs pic.twitter.com/6llsRovNFD
  24. Please complete our survey to tell us what psychologists think about blogging
  25. MT “@I_am_emma: #Psychologist : Please share your views on blogging ow.ly/1Y9wlu We’re talking blogs @PsyPAG2013 #postgradblogs

It must be true, I read it on the web!

Interesting post from Dawn Branley which considers the way in which we have come to trust online information. Young people often use the web for drug and alcohol information so it is vital that there are reliable sources to counter some of the myths and misinformation

The Cyber Psyche


Do you search the web for information on everything from ‘whether you really need to go to the doctors’ to ‘which restaurant to go to next weekend’?

You are not alone!

People rely on information from the internet to guide their decisions in many areas of their lives. For example:

  • Where to go for lunch?TripAdvisor receives 230 million unique monthly visitors (Google Analytics, 2013) and has over 100 million reviews including information on over 1.3 million restaurants! (Tripadvisor, 2013)
  • Is that lump, bump or rash serious? According to the latest research by the PEW Research Centre, 72% of internet users say they use the net to find out health information, and 52% of smartphone owners have looked up medical information on their phone. The NHS even has their own website, NHS Choices, which includes a symptom checker for this purpose.
  • What is the best…

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Is blogging self indulgent?

Continuing on the theme of musical hits of the late 80s/ early 90s today’s blog post is accompanied by Manchester favourites The Stone Roses*.

When we publish a new blog post, is it because we wanna be adored?

At our Faculty Annual Research Conference today I attended a blogging workshop by social media and online communication guru Anne Osterrieder and Marion Waite a teaching fellow with expertise in online distance learning.  During the workshop it was evident that colleagues had a number of different views about the purposes of blogging. With the PsyPAG 2013 blogging workshop almost upon us I was really interested in the divergent opinions in the room as it seems likely that our workshop attendees may raise similar issues.

Anne and Marion’s slides list a number of potential benefits and barriers to blogging.  As an Open University tutor I was really interested in how blogs had been used in teaching. I sometimes find it challenging to get students to engage in online forums and so I wondered how encouraging personal reflection using a blog might overcome some students’ reluctance to interact using the online tools provided through the module.

In terms of barriers, I can really identify with the issue of time. When Fleur-Michelle and I started the blogging project we planned to post once a month.  This has been much much harder than I anticipated.  Other barriers that many people agreed with was that they may appear unprofessional, lack confidence or not knowing what to say.

One of our colleagues in the room then raised a common objection suggesting that blogging was self-indulgent  in a similar way that Facebook sometimes seems to be full of rather inappropriate over sharing.    I can certainly agree with that comment to some extent and I am sure we’ve all got examples of times we have groaned or gasped in horror at something one of our ‘friends’ has posted on social media.  But blogging doesn’t have to be the same.  If you chose to blog for professional reasons then you can chose just to follow other professional blogs.

I’ll be asking the experienced bloggers in the #postgradblogs workshop what they think about some of these barriers and reporting back after the conference.

My colleague Carolina has also written a response to the workshop on her new blog where she discusses ‘blogger’s block’.  Please do read this as well and let us know your thoughts on the topic.

Do we simply just wanna be adored or does blogging have a more useful function?


This is a picture I took when I was made to go and see the Stone Roses play in Heaton Park last summer.  They were adored very much by their fans, most of whom were wearing hats like the guy in this shot.

*I also partly included this song also because I just sat through the new Stone Roses film ‘Made of Stone’ with my partner who was a big fan and actually really enjoyed it!


Moving on from terrible ’80s rockers Europe to some cheery Radiohead from the ’90s

One of the really great things about doing a PhD is that you meet a lot of different people along the way.  I’m always interested to find out about people’s reasons for undertaking a PhD and this has made me reflect upon my own motivation.  In a previous post I mentioned that I felt like I was doing lot of things badly and this was possibly due having a number of competing commitments.  I’ve taken on extra responsibilities and got involved with different things because I want to make the most of every opportunity available to me.  Even this far down the line (month 30 and counting..) I still don’t really see myself as being the type of person who gets a PhD.  When I did my undergraduate degree I wasn’t the greatest of students, in fact I think I only went to university because I wanted to leave home and it seemed like an easy way to do it.  In my second year I only went to about four stats lectures, partly because they were at 9am on a Thursday and partly because I was completely intimidated by the subject matter.


Taking a bath at the BPS conference in Harrogate where I helped to host the PsyPAG stand

After university I had no idea what I wanted to do and no confidence.  I spent six years working hard, playing hard and making some amazing friends along the way but all the time with the feeling that it wasn’t what I wanted to do.  I was increasingly unhappy at this time but one day a chat with a friend lead me to return to study with the Open University.  An extremely fortunate turn of events meant that I ended up at Oxford Brookes as a full time psychology demonstrator in 2007.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that being offered this job changed my life.

So I know that there is a huge difference in the way that I approach my PhD compared with the high flying students coming straight through the system or the experienced professionals taking a PhD in their area of expertise.  It is almost like I have given myself a second chance and I’m going to try as hard as possible to make the most of it.  Even if this means working a lot of the time at the moment, and sometimes feeling a bit stressed about certain things.  I’m trying to keep hold of the feeling that to be able to do what I am doing is a great privilege and I’m so happy to be enjoying what I do every day.

This is just my reflection on what motivates me to keep going, especially when it all gets a bit much.   Everyone has different reasons and different things that spur them on when the going gets tough (but don’t worry I’m not going to link to the video for that song!)

In terms of over-commitment then, as Radiohead so aptly put it, you do it to yourself.   I’m off to lie down on the ground now, just don’t ask me why.

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