Evaluating the relationship between binge drinking rates and a replicable measure of U.S. State alcohol policy environments

Diana Silver, James Macinko, Margaret Giorgio, Jin Yung Bae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Excessive alcohol consumption contributes significantly to premature mortality, injuries and morbidity, and a range of U.S. state policies have been shown to reduce these behaviors. Monitoring state alcohol policy environments is essential, but methodologically challenging given that new laws may be passed (or repealed) each year, resulting in considerable variation across states. Existing measures have not been made public or have only a single year available. We develop a new replicable measure, the state alcohol policy score, for each state and year 2004–2009, that captures the essential features of a state’s evidence-based alcohol policies. We evaluate its similarity to two existing alcohol policy measures and validate it by replicating findings from a previous study that used one of those measures to assess its relationship with several binge drinking outcomes. Estimates of the association between one-year lagged state alcohol policy scores and state binge drinking outcomes, obtained from the 2005–2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys (n = 440,951, 2010), were produced using Generalized Linear Models that controlled for state and individual-level co-variates, with fixed effects for year and region. We find a 10-percent-age point increase in the state alcohol policy score was associated with a 9% lower odds of binge drinking (aOR = 0.91, 95% CI 0.89, 0.92; N = 1,992,086), a result consistent for men, women and for most age and race subgroups. We find that gender gaps in binge drinking behaviors narrowed in states with higher state alcohol policy scores. These results were nearly identical to those found in other studies using different scores obtained with the aid of expert opinions. We conclude that the score developed here is a valid measure that can be readily updated for monitoring and evaluating the variation and impact of state alcohol policies and make available our state scores for the years of the study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0218718
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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