Webinar: How Has Drinking Behavior Changed During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, states issued stay-at-home orders in March 2020. Along with those orders, many states relaxed alcohol regulations—for example, many states started to allow curbside pickup of alcohol. The popular media reported a jump in alcohol sales and anecdotal accounts of increased drinking. But how did alcohol consumption change across the nation? Were people simply having one or two more drinks? Did harmful binge drinking increase? Were the changes greater among some subgroups of the population than others? These are important public health questions because alcohol is one of the leading preventable causes of mortality in the country.
RTI funded a survey of nearly 1,000 Americans in May 2020 to assess changes in alcohol consumption and other measures of mental health from before (February) to after (April) the onset of measures to combat COVID-19. The published manuscript of survey results and conclusions is now available.
During this webinar, we talked about the different ways in which drinking changed during the pandemic and the implications for public health. View the presentation slides and the full webinar recording below.
Respondents were re-surveyed in a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)-sponsored study, providing unique longitudinal data from February 2020 to November 2020. View the findings from the second survey.
As RTI experts presented the results of the survey, webinar attendees learned whether:
- The COVID-19 pandemic is associated with increased alcohol consumption.
- The increase in drinking behavior is higher for certain genders, ethnicities, and regions.
- There is a need for public health monitoring of alcohol consumption during the pandemic.
Even though this study indicated an increase in alcohol consumption among Americans, one study is not enough to confirm a trend. The National Institutes of Health recently awarded RTI a contract to conduct a secondary study to expand understanding of how the pandemic is affecting drinking trends.
If you have any questions or are interesting in partnering, please contact the presenters using the form below:
Meet the Presenters
Carolina Barbosa, PhD
Dr. Carolina Barbosa is a health economist and decision scientist at RTI International. Her research focuses on epidemiological modeling, outcomes research, and economic evaluation of substance use interventions. She currently serves as the principal investigator on a National Institute of Health (NIH) grant to establish a link between drinking patterns, health consequences, and alcohol treatment effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. She has a PhD in Health Economics from the University of York in the UK.
Alexander Cowell, PhD
Director, Behavioral Health Financing, Economics, and Evaluation
Dr. Alexander J. Cowell directs RTI’s Behavioral Health Financing, Economics, and Evaluation program. Much of his work involves evaluating interventions and policies to improve people’s behavioral health. He has directed a variety of projects that range from small pilot investigations to large-scale, multi-site studies. He has a PhD in economics from the University of North Carolina.
William Dowd, BA
Mr. William N. Dowd is a research economist in RTI’s Behavioral Health Financing, Economics, and Evaluation program. He conducts research and evaluation on issues related to substance use disorder, especially alcohol and opioids. He is currently pursuing a PhD in health economics and policy from Lancaster University in the UK.