Representations of minimum unit pricing for alcohol in UK newspapers: a case study of a public health policy debate

Patterson, C. , Katikireddi, S. V. , Wood, K. and Hilton, S. (2015) Representations of minimum unit pricing for alcohol in UK newspapers: a case study of a public health policy debate. Journal of Public Health, 37(1), pp. 10-49. (doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdu078) (PMID:25312002) (PMCID:PMC4340327)

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Abstract

Background: Mass media influence public acceptability, and hence feasibility, of public health interventions. This study investigates newsprint constructions of the alcohol problem and minimum unit pricing (MUP). Methods: Quantitative content analysis of 901 articles about MUP published in 10 UK and Scottish newspapers between 2005 and 2012. Results: MUP was a high-profile issue, particularly in Scottish publications. Reporting increased steadily between 2008 and 2012, matching the growing status of the debate. The alcohol problem was widely acknowledged, often associated with youths, and portrayed as driven by cheap alcohol, supermarkets and drinking culture. Over-consumption was presented as a threat to health and social order. Appraisals of MUP were neutral, with supportiveness increasing slightly over time. Arguments focused on health impacts more frequently than more emotive perspectives or business interests. Health charities and the NHS were cited slightly more frequently than alcohol industry representatives. Conclusion: Emphases on efficacy, evidence and experts are positive signs for evidence-based policymaking. The high profile of MUP, along with growing support within articles, could reflect growing appetite for action on the alcohol problem. Representations of the problem as structurally driven might engender support for legislative solutions, although cultural explanations remain common.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wood, Miss Karen and Katikireddi, Dr Srinivasa and Hilton, Professor Shona and Patterson, Mr Christopher
Authors: Patterson, C., Katikireddi, S. V., Wood, K., and Hilton, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:Journal of Public Health
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1741-3850
ISSN (Online):1741-3842
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Public Health 37(1):10-49
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
656611Understanding and Use of Public Health ResearchShona HiltonMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/6IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
656591Evaluating the Health Effects of Social InterventionsMatthew EganMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/4IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU