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Given limited research evidence for community-based alcohol interventions, this study examines the intervention preferences of rural communities and alcohol professionals, and factors that influence their choices.
Community preferences were identified by a survey of randomly selected individuals across 20 regional Australian communities. The preferences of alcohol professionals were identified by a survey of randomly selected members of the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs. To identify preferred interventions and the extent of support for them, a budget allocation exercise was embedded in both surveys, asking respondents to allocate a given budget to different interventions. Tobit regression models were estimated to identify the characteristics that explain differences in intervention preferences.
Community respondents selected school programs most often (88.0%) and allocated it the largest proportion of funds, followed by promotion of safer drinking (71.3%), community programs (61.4%) and police enforcement of alcohol laws (60.4%). Professionals selected GP training most often (61.0%) and allocated it the largest proportion of funds, followed by school programs (36.6%), community programs (33.8%) and promotion of safer drinking (31.7%). Community views were susceptible to response bias. There were no significant predictors of professionals' preferences.
In the absence of sufficient research evidence for effective community-based alcohol interventions, rural communities and professionals both strongly support school programs, promotion of safer drinking and community programs. Rural communities also supported police enforcement of alcohol laws and professionals supported GP training. The impact of a combination of these strategies needs to be rigorously evaluated.