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Open access

Peter Wennberg, Johan Svensson and Mats Ramstedt

The effects of missing data when surveying alcohol habits

AIMS - This study aimed at describing the effects of missing data when surveying alcohol consumption using a Random Digit Dialling procedure. METHODS - Data was part of the Monitor project including repeated monthly data on the alcohol habits in the general Swedish population. Non-respondents during four months were followed up a year later and asked to do a shortened telephone interview and were compared to a concurrent sample of respondents (n=2552 versus n=6005). Further, using a second approach, the monthly levels of non-response was related to the level of measured alcohol use in a time series analysis (n=67500). RESULTS - The results indicated no differences in the level of reported alcohol or tobacco use with except for a slightly higher proportion of alcohol abstainers in the sample of initial non-response. The time series showed no pattern of co-variation between the obtained nonresponse levels and the assessed levels of alcohol or tobacco use. CONCLUSIONS - On the basis of the results it was meaningful to make a distinction between "soft" non-respondents (responding after extensive contacting effort) and "hard" non-respondents (not responding albeit extensive effort) and the results suggest that inclusion of the "soft" non-respondents does not by necessity lead to higher levels of assessed alcohol use.

Open access

Ingeborg Rossow and Mats Ramstedt

Abstract

BACKGROUND - There is a renewed interest in alcohol’s harm to others (AHTO), and survey studies in the general population are often used to estimate the extent of harm, to address the severity and variety of harms, and to identify the victims of such harm. While cross-sectional survey studies are attractive in several respects, they also entail several methodological challenges. AIM - We discuss some of these issues, paying particular attention to the problems of causal attribution, transferability, survey data collection and range of harms. CONCLUSIONS - We offer some suggestions for study design to enhance causal inferences from studies examining alcohol’s harm to others.

Open access

Hans Melberg, Pekka Hakkarainen, Esben Houborg, Marke Jääskeläinen, Astrid Skretting, Mats Ramstedt and Pia Rosenqvist

Measuring the harm of illicit drug use on friends and family

AIMS - This paper explores different approaches to quantify the human costs related to drug use. DATA AND METHODS - The data come from a representative survey of 3092 respondents above the age of 18 in four Nordic capitals: Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo and Stockholm. RESULTS - The results show that in most Nordic capitals more than half of the respondents at some time have known and worried about the drug use of somebody they know personally. Moreover, while the average reported harm was about 2 on a scale from 0 to 10, a significant minority (10%) of those knowing drug users indicated that the harm was above 5. CONCLUSIONS - Many persons have at some time personally known somebody who uses drugs. This causes significant human harm and should be included in the estimate of the social cost of illegal drugs. These results are relevant in the debate on the size of the drug problem as well as for targeting groups that experience the highest costs.