Background: Europe presents the highest rates of alcohol consumption per inhabitant, with an impact exceeding 6% of the DALYs lost. However, European researchers claim that most of the research in the alcohol field is conducted outside Europe. In order to assess this claim, a review of international indexed publications on alcohol marketing and availability, two cornerstones of alcohol public health policy, was performed.
Methods: A systematic search on Medline (1990-2009) was conducted by two independent researchers in order to identify articles that studied the availability or marketing of alcoholic beverages. The publication year and country of affiliation of the first author were recorded. The type and number of publications were classified according to the geographic area where the research was conducted.
Results: Of the 990 retrieved articles on availability, 214 were found relevant; of the 828 articles obtained for marketing, 249 were classified as relevant. Most of the alcohol availability- and marketing-related articles were published in the USA (52.3% and 59.0%, respectively). A total of 22.5% of the availability studies and 15.7% of the marketing studies were published by a first author affiliated to a European country. The European alcohol-related references have been generated mostly in the UK, the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands (73.4% of all European publications).
Conclusion: Despite the impact of alcohol in Europe, most of the research is conducted in other countries. Moreover, the volume of research is unequal among the European countries as well. European public health research in the alcohol field should be encouraged, involving countries with scant or non-existent research.
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