Young adults and alcohol use : an in-depth examination of the process of engaging the "public" in public health education
Excessive young adult (ages 19-24) or binge drinking is an important public health concern. Alcohol is enormously popular and has a high level of social and cultural significance in Canada. Behaviours such as excessive drinking have become a normalized “rite of passage” with major health, social, and economic costs. This thesis examines a public education event, How Much is Too Much – A Conversation for Change: Young Adults and Alcohol (CFC), evaluating the strategies used and impact of integrating individual and community empowerment into its development and delivery processes and outcomes. Applying a framework integrating top-down and bottom-up health promotion strategies and addressing the culture and practices of young adult drinking in Saskatchewan and Canada, this thesis answers the question: How effective is the process of the CFC at: a) providing public education, b) facilitating individual and community empowerment, and c) initiating and sustaining meaningful dialogue about the issue of young adult alcohol use in Saskatchewan? The secondary research question is: Did the process of the CFC contribute to individual attitude or behavioural change or facilitate any social action around the issue of young adult drinking? These questions were explored using a mixed methodology, including semi-structured interviews with event organizers, presenters, and participants, participant observation of an online blog, and CFC evaluations. Results indicated that the most successful components of the CFC included: a) increased awareness of young adult excessive alcohol use in sociocultural context, b) insight into the issue within and outside of the Saskatchewan community, and c) allowing community members’ voices to be heard. The least effective element was a six-week follow-up blog designed to continue the conversation about young adult drinking. Based on these results, a series of five categories of recommendations about the process of including the “public” in public health education were identified. The five areas addressed were: a) program design, b) objective setting, c) strategy selection, d) strategy implementation and management, and e) evaluation. This research has implications for health promoters that aim to conduct public health education that facilitates the transition from knowledge acquisition through to individual and community empowerment and eventual action.
DegreeMaster of Public Health (M.P.H.)
DepartmentSchool of Public Health
CommitteeTeucher, Ulrich; El-Aneed, Anas
Copyright DateJanuary 2012
Public Health Education