Changing Collective Social Norms in Favour of Reduced Harmful Use of Alcohol: A Review of Reviews

Peter Anderson*, Eva Jane-Llopis, Omer Syed Muhammad Hasan, Juergen Rehm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

12 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Public sector bodies have called for policies and programmes to shift collective social norms in disfavour of the harmful use of alcohol. This article aims to identify and summarize the evidence and propose how policies and programmes to shift social norms could be implemented and evaluated.

Design: Review of reviews for all years to July 2017.

Data sources: Searches on OVID Medline, Healthstar, Embase, PsycINFO, AMED, Social Work Abstracts, CAB Abstracts, Mental Measurements Yearbook, Joanna Briggs Institute EBP, Health and Psychosocial Instruments, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, International Political Science Abstracts, NASW Clinical Register and Epub Ahead of Print databases.

Eligibility: All reviews, without language or date restrictions resulting from combining the terms ((review or literature review or review literature or data pooling or comparative study or systematic review or meta-analysis or pooled analysis) and (social norms or culture) and (alcohol drinking)).

Results: Two relevant reviews were identified. One review of community-based interventions found one study that demonstrated small changes in parental disapproval of under-age drinking. One review stressed that collective social norms about drinking are malleable and not uniform in any one country. Three factors are proposed to inform programmes: provide information about the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol, and their causes and distribution; act on groups, not individuals; and strengthen environmental laws, regulations and approaches.

Conclusions: Purposeful policies and programmes could be implemented to change collective social norms in disfavour of the harmful use of alcohol; they should be evidence-based and fully evaluated for their impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-332
Number of pages7
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2018



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