Sheffield Alcohol Research Group - latest news and activities


15 September 2015

SARG team present Research Rap at UKCTAS Early Career Researchers' Day!


SARG Team members Abdallah Ally, Jess Li and Duncan Gillespie delighted the crowds and the Twittersphere with their fantastic rap rendition of SARGs work and research, at the UKCTAS Early Career Researchers' Day held in Bristol.

Tragically no video evidence remains, but you can read the words below.

Congratulations to Jess Li, who was also jointly awarded the prize for best poster presentation.

**To the tune of Fresh Prince of Bel Air**

From South Yorkshire, born and raised

SARG members examined an alcohol craze

Minimum pricing, taxation galore,

Just a few of the things we like to explore…

We first formed in two thousand and ten

When the MRC gave us money to spend

The Sheffield Alcohol Model we built,

Based on those who were drinking, while wearing a kilt!

We’ve got 15 members in our research group…

But we still like to keep UKCTAS in the loop

We research policy and many other things

So here’s a big list of what we bring…

Policy appraisal and price modelling,

Treatment capacity for heavy drinking,

Understanding why Brits drink a lot

Examining elasticities of what they bought

Adapting our model for tons of nations,

Like Wales, Scotland, and other relations

Developing models to curb tobacco smoking

Preventing risky drinkers from prematurely croaking

Awareness of drinking and cancer risk,

Hearing focus groups shout nanny state, ‘tisk, tisk!’

Reviewing drink guidelines in South London

Improving survey measures of alcohol consumption

Adapting our model for local authorities

Examining harms to others, close families

Defining what is meant by a drinking occasion

Addressing court appeal for EU persuasion

So these are the things SARG is working on now

We hope you enjoyed, now it’s time for the bow

If you have final comments for any one of us,

Please come and shout, future collaborations are a plus!

7th August 2015

SURE student Josh Berlyne wins Best Presentation

Josh Berlyne presentationCongratulations to Josh, who was awarded with one of the two prizes for Best Presentation for his presentation, “UK newsprint media representations of low level drinking during pregnancy: a content analysis” at the Think Ahead: Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience Programme (SURE) presentation event.

Josh is a third year History and Philosophy who joined the Alcohol Research Group for eight weeks this past summer as part of SURE. His research was funded by the Wellcome Trust Biomedical Vacation Scholarship.

13th July 2015

Majority of people in Britain harmed by other people's drinking

A new report from the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group and the Institute of Alcohol Studies shows that more than half of Scots and three-quarters of people from North West England are harmed by another person's drinking. The report was released today and can be found here.


A short animated video highlighting some of the key findings from the report can be found here

Key findings include that in the past 12-months:

  • 51% of people in Scotland and 78% of people in North West England had experienced harm from another person’s drinking. Most of these people reported multiple types of harm
  • There is a link between age and rates of harm, with younger age groups (16-24 and 25-34 year-olds) reporting greater rates of harm than older age groups
  • One in five adults have been harassed or insulted on the street by someone who has been drinking (20% Scotland; 23% North West England)
  • 15% of people in North West England report that someone who had been drinking gave them unwanted sexual attention or behaved in a sexually inappropriate way towards them.

Lead author Dr Lucy Gell from the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield said:

“We need to better record alcohol’s harm to others across the health and social services and provide support services for those experiencing harm from other people’s drinking. Our team are now working to provide evidence to national and local governments about which mix of policies could best help to reduce the social harms associated with alcohol use.”

Katherine Brown, Director of IAS said:

“This report is important because it shows that the harms caused by alcohol extend far beyond individual drinkers, often affecting many people through no choice of their own. Alcohol harm is everybody’s business – as taxpayers we are all paying the price. We hope this government will look to the evidence of what works and take action, both to ease the heavy financial burden on our health, social care and police services, and to make our communities safer.”

1-5th June 2015

Ten SARG members present at the 41st Annual Kettil Bruun Society Symposium in Munich, Germany.

KBS 2015 was held from 1-5th June in Munich, Germany.

The Sheffield Alcohol Research Group had a strong presence at the conference, with members presenting findings from a diverse portfolio of projects:

  • Colin Angus - The changing face of alcohol availability in Great Britain: An analysis of trends in outlet types and density between 2003-2014
  • Alan Brennan - Preventing increases in alcohol affordability: identifying an appropriate mechanism for uprating excise duty over time
  • Penny Buykx - Using routine administrative data from specialist alcohol treatment services in England to estimate client severity of dependence, complex needs and treatment pathways
  • Lucy Gell - An examination of the clustering of alcohol's harm to others: patterns and correlates
  • Duncan Gillespie - How inequalities in tobacco and alcohol consumption might modify the effects of public health action: a modelling case study of head, neck and oesophageal cancer
  • John Holmes - Evidence and expert judgement in setting low risk drinking guidelines
  • Jessica Li - Understanding variation in alcohol consumption estimates: a comparison of sub-group specific alcohol consumption distributions across four English population-based surveys
  • Melanie Lovatt - The influences on the characteristics of drinking occasions in the United Kingdom
  • Petra Meier - Gender differences in responses to alcohol pricing policies: a modelling study
  • Susi Sadler - Comparing health condition-specific socioeconomic gradients in alcohol-related harm between the four UK countries

4th June 2015

Lucy Gell presents ALICE RAP findings on the determinants of addiction at the World Health Organisation

Representatives from the (ALICE RAP) project were invited to share key findings from the project with the Mental Health and Substance Abuse team at the World Health Organisation in Geneva on 4th June 2015.

Lucy was presenting key findings from Work Area 3 of the ALICE RAP project, which is focused on identifying the determinants of transitions in the development of harmful substance use and gambling. The results of this project will be available in a book - 'What determines harm from addictive substances and behaviours?' - to be published by Oxford University Press in early 2016.

20th April 2015

Colin Angus co-runs a workshop at 'Alcohol Brief Interventions: Where next for IBA?' conference

On Monday 20th April Colin Angus attended a conference on Alcohol Brief Interventions: Where next for IBAs? in Birmingham organised by The Alcohol Academy.

Together with Amy O'Donnell from the University of Newcastle, he ran a workshop presenting results from the ODHIN (Optimising Delivery of Healthcare Interventions) study and co-ordinated a discussion around the challenges of incentivising patient health behaviours for practitioners in primary care.

1st April 2015

SARG says farewell to John Mooney

SARG bid goodbye to a valued member of the team yesterday. John Mooney has left to take up a position as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sunderland.

We wish him well in his new position!

18-19th March 2015

SARG members attend the PHE Applied Epidemiology Scientific Meeting at Warwick University

Three members of the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group are presenting research over the next couple of days at the PHE Applied Epidemiology Scientific Meeting at Warwick University. 

  • Dr John Holmes will give an oral presentation on the 'Effects of minimum unit pricing for alcohol on different income and socioeconomic groups: A modelling study'. 
  • Colin Angus will discuss the 'Inclusion of Alcohol Identification and Brief Advice in the NHS Health Checks: A Cost-Effective and Inequality-Reducing Measure?'.
  • Susi Sadler will present a poster on 'Comparing socioeconomic gradients in alcohol-related harm between the four UK countries'.

For further information on the conference and SARG work being presented, please visit the conference website here.

13th March 2015

John Holmes and Colin Angus give evidence at Oireachtais Committee on Health and Children


Yesterday, John Holmes and Colin Angus went to Ireland to give evidence to the Oireachtais Committee on Health and Children, who are taking evidence on the headers of the Irish Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.

They presented the findings of a SARG project investigating the potential impact of introducing minimum unit pricing in Ireland and took questions from the committee members about the details the policy and how it would work in Ireland.

9th March 2015

SARG welcomes a visiting scholar: Elena Gomes de Matos

Elena Gomes de Matos had joined the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group as a visiting scholar until 30th April 2015.

Elena is a research assistant and PhD student at the IFT in Munich. Principle overlapping research interests between SARG and IFT include socio-economic inequalities in alcohol use, how inequalities develop over time, and measures to reduce them. Over the course of the next 8 weeks, it is hoped that this visit will establish and strengthen a longer-term research relationship between SARG and the IFT in Munich.

9-11th February 2015

Penny Buykx and Susi Sadler attend a CRUK Sandpit

Penny and Susi attended Cancer Research UK’s second ‘sandpit’ event - part of the CRUK/BUPA Foundation Cancer Prevention Initiative, which aims to prevent cancer by funding cutting-edge research into behavioural and lifestyle changes. The aim of the event was to catalyse new multidisciplinary collaborations and develop innovative, radical and pioneering research in cancer prevention by bringing together a range of academic, industry, and community sector representatives, along with CRUK Centre of Excellence for Public Health Director and topic-specialist mentors to develop innovative and collaborative new research ideas.

Over the intensive three days of the event, participants identified a huge range of potential topics for research and intervention development related to the topic of risk perception and how this affects decision-making, behaviours and therefore cancer risk. Groups then worked together to select, develop and pitch skeleton research proposals for feasibility study funding.

Penny was part of a group which successfully bid to run a small study to develop a framework to record how politicians discuss alcohol and alcohol-related issues and policies. The content of publicly available documents, including speeches, interviews and media statements will be analysed in order to increase understanding of how issues of alcohol policy are framed and understood by key politicians and the potential relationship of this with decision making.

Penny and Susi also developed a successful bid along with psychologists and marketing experts to develop and design a novel mobile phone app aimed at helping people establish new habits for increased activity by encouraging them to record and diarise the good feelings associated with that activity (the ‘Bank of Good Times’!).

These projects will kick-off in April 2015 for twelve months, and are then expected to lead to the development of high-quality full CRUK research proposals for 2016 onwards.

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