Capacity development for Alcohol Policy Effectiveness Research (CAPER)

Cluster Leader


Professor Petra Meier

Professor of Public Health
University of Sheffield

Area of interest

The aim of our cluster is to prepare and lead a step-change in research capacity for the robust design, appraisal and evaluation of existing and new alcohol policy interventions. We bring together UK alcohol policy researchers, international alcohol policy experts who are at the forefront of methodological development, and non-addiction experts working in the areas of evidence synthesis, policy modelling, industrial economics, health economics, public health, health inequalities, criminology, sociology and psychology.

Our focus is on national and local implementations of alcohol pricing, availability, marketing, screening and brief intervention policies. Specifically, we are interested in the estimation of the effects of policy context (e.g. existing legislation), policy mix (e.g. combined effects of taxation, advertising bans and increasing treatment capacity), effects on different population groups and geographic regions, including unintended negative effects (proportionality and equity), policy effects on societal attitudes towards drinking (including role of the media), and industry responses to regulatory efforts. Our work is guided by the following overarching questions:

  • In what circumstances, within what time frames, in what respect and for whom are policies expected to work?

  • How can we analyse the interactions of different types of policies and hence, provide evidence on the best “policy mix”?

  • How can we improve UK estimates of alcohol related harm, including harms suffered by others and included longer-term harms such as unfulfilled potential, to inform policy appraisal?

  • What are the current barriers to drinking in moderation, including those associated with “drinking culture”, and how do different policy options affect these barriers?

Policy Direction

The cluster aims to inform strategic decisions about UK alcohol policies and their local, national and international implementation. Alcohol policies can be unpopular with consumers and industry, so it is imperative that decisions are based on sound evaluation of evidence, assessment of how evidence applies in the local context, modelling of predicted outcomes and evaluation of actual effects.

Important evidence gaps remain, which we prioritised with our international advisory group and policy stakeholders.The cluster work aims to enable stakeholders to answer what-if questions and to predict the likely downstream impact of new policy scenarios, for the first time taking into consideration the effects of existing policy frameworks, social contexts and underlying trends in consumption and harm. The current natural experiment conditions (England and Scotland pursuing different alcohol policy changes; local variations in licensing practices and enforcement) provide an ideal “hotbed” for such alcohol policy research.

An important element of our proposed work is that of early engagement and dialogue with local and national policy makers to maximise research impact. For example, recent policy research by cluster members has informed Scottish policy, the European Alcohol Strategy and the 2009 WHO Guidance on Action to Reduce Alcohol-Related Harm. Cluster members have provided briefings to the Prime Minister’s Special Advisors, the Health Select Committee and its Scottish equivalent, the Chief Medical Officer, various EU Commission committees, Alcohol Concern, Cancer Research UK, the BMA, the Royal College of Physicians as well as local governments and public health bodies. As part of cluster development, policy makers have been and are invited to contribute their detailed understanding of likely policy developments and decision making processes, their evidence needs, and the difficulties they face when using academic evidence in practice. Approaches from interested parties wishing to discuss research ideas and priorities, share information or to get involved are very welcome.

Co-Investigators ("steering group")

Anderson, P

University of Maastricht

Baumberg, B

University of Kent

Brennan, A

Professor of Health Economics and Decision Making
ScHARR, University of Sheffield

Dobson, P

Professor of Competition Economics
University of East Anglia Business School

Maheswaran, R

Clinical Senior Lecturer in Edpidemiology
ScHARR, University of Sheffield

Purshouse, R

Lecturer in Automatic Control Systems Engineering
University of Sheffield

Room, R

University of Melbourne, Australia and University of Stockholm, Sweden

Stockwell, T

Professor of Addiction Research
University of Victoria, Canada

Collaborators (“cluster members”)

Beeston, C

Senior Public Health Advisor - Policy Evaluation and Appraisal
NHS Scotland

Booth, A

Reader in Evidence Based Information Practice and Director of Information
ScHARR, University of Sheffield

Brazier, J

Professor of Health Economics
ScHARR, University of Sheffield

Britton, J

Professor of Epidemiology
University of Nottingham

Chakraborty, R

Senior Lecturer in Business Management
University of East Anglia Business School

Cooper, R

Lecturer in Public Health
ScHARR, University of Sheffield

Goyder, E

Professor of Public Health
ScHARR, University of Sheffield

Gruenewald, P

Scientific Director
NIAAA Prevention Research Center, PIRE

Hastings, G

Professor of Social Marketing
University of Stirling and Open University Business School

Herndandez, M

Research Fellow in Econometrics
ScHARR, University of Sheffield

Leicester, A

Senior Research Economist
Institute for Fiscal Studies

McCambridge, J

Senior Lecturer in Behaviour Change
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Miller, P

Senior Research Fellow in Psychology
Deakin University, Australia

Ponicki, W

Associate Research Scientist
Prevention Research Center, California

Seaton, J

Reader in Business Economics
University of Loughborough

Shapland, J

Professor of Criminal Justice
University of Sheffield

Tsuchiya, A

Lecturer in Health Economics
ScHARR, University of Sheffield

Valentine, G

School of Geography, University of Leeds

Wagenaar, A

Department of Health Outcomes and Policy, University of Florida