Young women at theme parties, especially with sexualised themes and costumes, drink more heavily than men, a study has revealed.
The study, led by James A. Cranford, research assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, revealed that drinking games and themed parties were associated with higher levels of drinking.
"Most studies use survey methods that require people to recall their drinking behaviour - days, weeks or months prior - and such recall is not always accurate," said J.D. Clapp, director of the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Studies and Services at San Diego State University and corresponding author for the study.
"By going out into the field and doing observations and surveys, including breath tests for alcohol concentrations, we were able to mitigate many of the problems associated with recall of behaviour and complex settings," Clapp added.
Cranford said: "In addition, this study is unique in its focus on both individual- and environmental-level predictors of alcohol involvement."
In the study, the researchers conducted a multi-level examination of 1,304 young adults (751 males, 553females) who were attending 66 college parties in private residences located close to an urban public university.
Measures included observations of party environments, self-administered questionnaires, and collection of blood-alcohol concentrations (BrACs).
"Both individual behaviour and the environment matter when it comes to student-drinking behaviour," Clapp said.
"At the individual level, playing drinking games and having a history of binge drinking predicted higher BrACs. At the environmental level, having a lot of intoxicated people at a party and themed events predicted higher BrACs. One of the more interesting findings was that young women drank more heavily than males at themed events. It is rare to find any situation where women drink more than men, and these events tended to have sexualised themes and costumes," Clapp added.
Cranford said: "Conversely, students who attended parties in order to socialize had lower levels of drinking. Interestingly, larger parties were associated with less drinking. Dr. Clapp and colleagues speculate that there may simply be less alcohol available at larger parties, and I suspect this may be the case."
"From a methodological standpoint, our study illustrates that it is possible and important to examine drinking behaviour in real-world settings," Clapp said.
The study is published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.