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Publication Detail
Health warning labels and alcohol selection: a randomised controlled experiment in a naturalistic shopping laboratory
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Clarke N, Blackwell AKM, De-loyde K, Pechey E, Hobson A, Pilling M, Morris RW, Marteau TM, Hollands GJ
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  • Pagination:
    3333, 3345
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  • Keywords:
    Alcohol, choice architecture, graphic warnings, health warning label, labelling, pictorial health warning label
  • Notes:
    © 2021 The Authors. Addiction published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for the Study of Addiction. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Health warning labels (HWLs) on tobacco products reduce smoking. There is an absence of evidence concerning the impact of alcohol HWLs on selection or purchasing in naturalistic settings. Using a commercial-standard naturalistic shopping laboratory, this study aimed to estimate the impact on selection of alcoholic drinks of HWLs describing adverse health consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. DESIGN: A between-subjects randomised experiment with three groups was conducted: group 1: image-and-text HWL; group 2: text-only HWL; group 3: no HWL. SETTING: A commercial-standard naturalistic shopping laboratory in the United Kingdom. PARTICIPANTS: Adults (n = 399, 55% female) over the age of 18 years, who purchased beer or wine weekly to drink at home. INTERVENTIONS: Participants were randomised to one of three groups varying in the HWL displayed on the packaging of the alcoholic drinks: (i) image-and-text HWL (n = 135); (ii) text-only HWL (n = 129); (iii) no HWL (n = 135). Participants completed a shopping task, selecting items from a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and snacks. MEASUREMENT: The primary outcome was the proportion of alcoholic drinks selected. Secondary outcomes included HWL ratings on negative emotional arousal and label acceptability. FINDINGS: There was no clear evidence of a difference in the HWL groups for the percentage of drinks selected that were alcoholic compared to no HWL (44%): image-and-text HWL: 46% (odds ratio [OR] = 1.08, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.82, 1.42); text-only HWL: 41% (OR = 0.87, 95% CI = 0.67, 1.14). Concordant with there being no difference between groups, there was extreme evidence in favour of the null hypothesis (Bayes factor [BF] < 0.01). Negative emotional arousal was higher (P < 0.001) and acceptability lower (P < 0.001) in the image-and-text HWL group, compared to the text-only HWL group. CONCLUSIONS: In a naturalistic shopping laboratory, there was no evidence that health warning labels describing the adverse health consequences of excessive alcohol consumption changed selection behaviour.
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