Effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic on the Drinking Behaviour of Dutch Adolescents with Different Socioeconomic Backgrounds
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Background: Alcohol use among adolescents is a global health concern, which is associated with a higher prevalence of alcohol dependence later in life and can affect development. However, different socioeconomic groups seem unequally affected by alcohol consumption, with lower socioeconomic groups experiencing more significant harm from alcohol consumption. With the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, these differences have the potential to be aggravated even further. The current study examined the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic on the drinking behaviour of adolescents in different socioeconomic groups in the Netherlands. Method: Longitudinal survey data from the Youth Got Talent study was used. Participants (N=1650) were 16 years or older and attended vocational schools in the Netherlands. Logistic regression analyses assessed associations between socioeconomic position and drinking behaviour (binge drinking and drinking frequency) before and during the Covid-19 pandemic. ANOVA analyses were performed to assess the change in drinking behaviour for socioeconomic groups before and during the pandemic. Results: Drinking frequency increased for all adolescents in this sample during the pandemic, while binge drinking decreased. However, no significant relations were found between socioeconomic position and drinking behaviour. There was also no significant change in drinking behaviour pre-and during the pandemic between socioeconomic groups. Conclusion: There was no evidence that socioeconomic position influenced adolescents’ drinking behaviour pre-or during the pandemic in this sample. Unequal sample sizes for socioeconomic groups may have affected these results. Therefore, future research is needed that uses equal sample sizes to investigate factors that influence alcohol consumption in adolescents, especially during social isolation. This would help improve policies and interventions that target alcohol consumption in adolescents in the Netherlands.