Improving public health through better implementation of alcohol policy: A multi-method study examining and addressing the factors influencing successful implementation

Background: Alcohol consumption places an enormous burden on society, causing over 200 disease and injury conditions globally. In Ireland, at least four deaths every day are caused by alcohol, which is key a target area of the Healthy Ireland Framework. The  Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018  represents the first Irish policy attempt to address alcohol harms through an explicitly public health approach and is lauded internationally. The Act contains a suite of measures focusing on pricing, visibility, advertising and health labelling. To date, some but not all of the Act’s measures have been introduced. Where measures are not implemented fully or effectively, serious harms from alcohol will persist unnecessarily. This implementation phase of the policy cycle has received little attention from researchers, despite being identified as a gap by the Minister for Health’s Public Health Alcohol Research Group. 

Aim and objectives: This proposal aims to deliver timely, novel evidence to enable policymakers and stakeholders to better understand the factors that influence the successful implementation of public health alcohol policy; and to identify how these factors can be addressed to accelerate reductions in alcohol-related harms.

The research will examine barriers and facilitators to implementation of the Act through qualitative interviews with policy stakeholders, decision-makers and implementers; explore public understanding and awareness of the Act through a national focus group study as a crucial factor influencing successful implementation; and conduct a media analysis to examine framing of the Act as a further factor influencing public and political opinion during the implementation phase. 

Findings of the research will be used to co-produce a range of actionable outputs with stakeholders: guidance/recommendations for policymakers on factors influencing successful implementation of public health alcohol policy; public communication guidelines for policy stakeholders; and media guidelines on responsible reporting of public health alcohol policy for journalists and advocates.  

Award Date
22 September 2023
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Susan Calnan
Host Institution
University College Cork
HRB Postdoctoral Fellowships: ARPP 2023