Sheffield Alcohol Research Group - latest news and activities


1st December 2014

SARG publishes a review of alcohol consumption among older adults

Researchers in SARG have published a new paper:

Gell, L. Goyder, E. Meier, P.S. (2014) Alcohol Consumption Among the Over 50s: International Comparisons. Alcohol and Alcoholism, DOI:

This review compares recent epidemiological evidence from developed countries on the prevalence of abstention and potentially problematic alcohol consumption in older adults. Read the full paper here.

19th November 2014

SARG team members present research at The Lancet Public Health Science Conference in Glasgow

Four SARG researchers attended The Lancet Public Health Science Conference in Glasgow on the 19th November.

  • Melanie Lovatt presented 'Interpretation and use of official drinking guidelines by adults in England and Scotland: a qualitative study'. Read the abstract here.
  • Lucy Gell presented 'Reflections and best practice recommendations for interdisciplinary working: a case study on the identification of the determinants of addiction from the Addiction and Lifestyles In Contemporary Europe Reframing Addictions Project (ALICE RAP)'. Read the abstract here.
  • John Mooney presented 'Investigating local policy drivers for alcohol harm prevention: a comparative case study of two local authorities in England'. Read the abstract here.
  • Jessica Li presented 'Improving measurement of the distribution of alcohol consumption across locations, beverages, and drinkers in England and Scotland: a cross-sectional telephone survey'. Read the abstract here.

6th October 2014

SARG publishes new work using the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model

On Wednesday 1st October SARG researchers published two new papers:

Brennan, A. Meng, Y. Holmes, J. Hill-McManus, D. and Meier, P. (2014) 'Potential benefits of minimum unit pricing for alcohol versus a ban on below cost selling in England 2014: modelling study', BMJ, doi: See accompanying editorial.

This paper presents a modelling study examining the comparative impact of minimum unit pricing for alcohol and a ban on below cost selling. We found that implementing a minimum unit price for alcohol of 45p would be 50 times more effective than the ban on below cost selling. Read the full paper here.

Brennan, A. Meier, P. Purshouse, R. Rafia, R. Meng, Y. Hill-McManus, D. Angus, C. and Holmes, J. (2014) 'The Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model: A Mathematical Description', Health Economics, DOI: 10.1002/hec.3105

This methodology paper sets out a mathematical description of the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model version 2.0, a model to evaluate public health strategies for alcohol harm reduction in the UK. Read the full paper here.

30 September 2014

SARG say goodbye to Yang Meng and Jane McLeod

SARG bid goodbye to two valued members of the team this month:

  • Health Modeller, Yang Meng, whose input into the development of SAPM was key, has moved to work in consultancy.
  • Science Writer, Jane McLeod, has taken up a to a science research position.

We wish them both the very best in their new positions.

26th September 2014

SARG team members attend UKCTAS Alcohol Policy & Practice course

The team was well represented this week at the new UKCTAS Alcohol Policy & Practice course, attended by Dr Penny Buykx and John Mooney as participants, with SARG’s Dr John Holmes delivering two sessions:

  1. Survey methods for monitoring consumption (including an overview of the policy options around price that have been modelled extensively within the group)
  2. A graphical portrayal of the negligible benefits associated with the current UK government’s preferred ‘below cost selling ban’ compared with minimum unit pricing.

Other course highlights included a historical perspective from Dr James Nichols of Alcohol Research UK and former President of the Royal College of Physicians and Chair of the UK Alcohol Health Alliance, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, who offered a compelling overview of the current gap between evidence and policy and why a declining population alcohol consumption should give us no room for complacency about the rising and inequitable health burden associated with alcohol.


A huge thanks must go to Professor Linda Bauld and Dr Niamh Fitzgerald of the University of Stirling’s Institute of Social Marketing for designing, organising and delivering such an engaging and informative course.

24th September 2014

SARG researchers present work at conferences and meetings around the world

Over the past 3 weeks a number of researchers in SARG have presented their research at conferences and meetings including:

Petra Meier presented work from 3 research projects at a KBS Thematic Meeting on Alcohol Policy Research in Melbourne (Australia), from 8th-11th September.

Melanie Lovatt and John Holmes presented findings of drinking guidelines research to the Chief Medical Officer's group set up to review them, on 9th September in London (UK).

Melanie Lovatt presented work on 'The Characteristics of Drinking Occasions, and How These Might be Amenable to Policy Intervention' at the BSA Medical Sociology Conference at the University of Aston, Birmingham (UK), on 11th September.

Colin Angus presented new evidence on the cost-effectiveness of SBIs at the INEBRIA Conference in Warsaw (Poland), 17th-19th September. This research has concluded that SBIs would be cost-effective everywhere in the EU and the best and most cost-effective ways to improve delivery rates are improved training for practitioners in combination with financial reimbursement.

Penny Buykx presented at the Alcohol Health Alliance Roundtable in London (UK) on 24th September. This meeting was organised to highlight the links between alcohol and cancer, with the aim of identifying how cancer and alcohol harm reduction charities might better work together to reduce the harm caused by alcohol-related cancers in the UK.  


1st September 2014

SARG publish a paper on the cost-effectiveness of screening and brief intervention programmes in primary care

A group of SARG researchers have today published a systematic review of the existing evidence on the cost-effectiveness of screening and brief intervention programmes in primary care. Their conclusions show that such programmes are highly likely to be cost-effectiveness irrespective of the type of staff who deliver the intervention or the duration of the intervention itself.

Read the paper here.

1st August 2014

SARG welcomes new Research Associate, Dr Duncan Gillespie

On 1st August Duncan Gillespie joined SARG, from the University of Liverpool. Duncan will be working on a UKCTAS project to develop a joint policy model for alcohol and tobacco as a research associate in Health Economics and Decision Science.

1st July 2014

Dr Penny Buykx joins SARG as Senior Researcher

PennyBuykxSARG were delighted to welcome Penny Buykx, who joined our team on 1st July,  from Monash University in Australia. 

Penny is an experienced researcher who has previously undertaken a variety of epidemiological, clinical, and service evaluation projects.

24th June 2014

SARG publish a paper on UK excise duty and sales tax

A group of SARG researchers publish their findings on UK tax pass-through across product and price ranges, in the journal Addiction, asking the question:  do retailers treat cheap alcohol differently? 

Results indicate that alcohol retailers in the United Kingdom appear to respond to increases in alcohol tax by undershifting their cheaper products (raising prices below the level of the tax increase) and overshifting their more expensive products (raising prices beyond the level of the tax increase). This is likely to impact negatively on tax policy effectiveness, because high-risk groups favour cheaper alcohol and undershifting is likely to produce smaller consumption reductions.

To find out more, click here.

13th June 2014

SARG researcher Daniel Moyo awarded prestigious Ole-Jürgen Skog prize at Kettil Bruun Society for Social and Epidemiological Research on Alcohol 2014 Symposium in Turin

Daniel MayoCongratulations to Daniel, who won the award for his was for his paper "Individual-level computational modelling to predict population-level alcohol consumption trends", based on its contribution to advancing knowledge in alcohol research and on its theoretical and methodological quality.

This prestigious award, for best paper presented by an early career scientist, was well-deserved for the excellent work that Daniel has done in inter-disciplinary systems engineering over the last 10 months. The research was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council under grant number ES/K001760/1.

9th – 13th June 2014

SARG research present findings at KBS 2014 Symposium in Turin

KBSNine researchers from SARG presented recent work at the 2014 Kettil Bruun Society Symposium in Turin this year. Petra Meier, John Holmes, Yang Meng, Robin Purshouse, Daniel Moyo, Lucy Gell, Abdallah Ally, Melanie Lovatt and John Mooney presented work from a range of SARG projects.

1st April 2014

Modelling the impact of minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Wales

WalesA new project “Modelling the impact of the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol in Wales” has started in March 2014. The project is commissioned by the Welsh Government and has been awarded to the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) at the University of Sheffield. The ScHARR research team includes Yang Meng (principal investigator), Lucy Gell, Susannah Sadler, Alan Brennan, John Holmes and Petra Meier. The aim of the study is to apply the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model to appraise the likely impact of minimum unit pricing for alcohol on the alcohol consumption, spending, and on the levels of alcohol-related harms in terms of health, crime and absenteeism in Wales.

Photo by Larry Burdeschitze under a Creative Commons License.

10 February 2014

SARG publish paper in The Lancet addressing impact of minimum unit pricing on drinkers from different income groups

Lancet paper Feb 2014An important paper by the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group, entitled Effects of minimum unit pricing for alcohol on different income and socioeconomic groups: a modelling study has been published in The Lancet.

This modelling study is the first to consider how drinkers from different income groups would be affected by minimum pricing in terms of alcohol consumptions and spending, alcohol-related deaths, illnesses, and cost to the health service.  

The results suggest that minimum pricing for alcohol effectively targets high risk drinkers, with negligible effects on moderate drinkers with low incomes.

6th February 2014

SARG publish a paper in BMC Family Practice that evaluates a programme of screening and brief interventions in Italy

SARG researchers Colin Angus, Robin Purshouse and Alan Brennan publish a study entitled Cost-effectiveness of a programme of screening and brief interventions for alcohol in primary care in Italy which provides strong support for the promotion of a policy of screening and brief interventions throughout Italy.

9 January 2014

Sheffield Alcohol Research Group response to the BMJ report

Alcohol pricing reportIn late 2012, the Home Office requested a report on our most recent analyses examining the effects of minimum unit pricing. This was to inform consultation and impact assessment for policy proposals arising from the Government's Alcohol Strategy.

These analyses were published in two separate reports by the University of Sheffield on 17 July 2013, the first outlining results from a long-term study into the potential impact of alternative levels of minimum unit price and the second, produced in June 2013, exploring the potential impact of a ban on selling alcohol below cost.

The reports were made available to the Government in draft form throughout the months leading up to the announcement and the substantive conclusions of the reports did not change throughout that period.

The Government did not bar SARG from releasing the reports - we had agreed from the outset that we would align our publication with the Government's response to the Alcohol Strategy consultation to ensure we provided their impact assessment of minimum unit pricing with the most up-to-date evidence possible. Having produced additional analyses on below cost selling in June, a further consideration was that if these were published directly before the Government's announcement that could be considered a de facto announcement of Government policy.

SARG's research into the effects of minimum unit pricing is funded by the Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Dr John Holmes, Research Fellow, Sheffield Alcohol Research Group at University of Sheffield explains the research further in a blog published by The Conversation.

SARG news and activities archive: 2013 | 2012 | 2011