Research Output
Alcohol purchasing by ill heavy drinkers; cheap alcohol is no single commodity.

Potential strategies to address alcohol misuse remain contentious. We aim to characterise the drink purchases of one population group: heavy drinkers in contact with Scottish health services. We contrast our findings with national sales data and explore the impact of socio-economic status on purchasing behaviour.

Study design

Cross-sectional study comparing alcohol purchasing and consumption by heavy drinkers in Edinburgh and Glasgow during 2012.


639 patients with serious health problems linked to alcohol (recruited within NHS hospital clinics (in- and out-patient settings) 345 in Glasgow, 294 in Edinburgh) responded to a questionnaire documenting demographic data and last week's or a ‘typical’ weekly consumption (type, brand, volume, price, place of purchase). Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation quintile was derived as proxy of sociodemographic status.


Median consumption was 184.8 (IQR = 162.2) UK units/week paying a mean of 39.7 pence per alcohol unit (£0.397). Off-sales accounted for 95% of purchases with 85% of those

  • Type:


  • Date:

    24 September 2015

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    WB Saunders/ Elsevier

  • DOI:


  • Cross Ref:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine

  • Funders:

    Alcohol Research UK (R2011/01); Chief Scientist Office, Scotland (CZH/4/645); NHS Health Scotland; NHS Lothian Foundation Trust


Gill, J., Chick, J., Black, H., Rees, C., O'May, F., Rush, R., & McPake, B. (2015). Alcohol purchasing by ill heavy drinkers; cheap alcohol is no single commodity. Public Health, 129(12), 1571-1578.



Alcohol; heavy drinkers; price; drink purchasing;

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