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The effectiveness of alcohol label information for increasing knowledge and awareness: a rapid evidence review

  • Academic publication
  • 31st Jul 2023



Consumers have difficulty understanding alcoholic units and low risk drinking guidelines (LRDG). Labelling may improve comprehension. The aims of this rapid evidence review were to establish the effectiveness of on-bottle labelling for (i) improving comprehension of health risks; (ii) improving comprehension of unit and/or standard drink information and/or LRDG, and (iii) reducing self-reported intentions to drink/actual drinking.


Electronic database searches were carried out (January 2008-November 2018 inclusive). Papers were included if they were: published in English; from an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development country; an experimental/quasi-experimental design. Papers were assessed for quality using the Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment tool. Ten papers were included. Most studies were moderate quality (n = 7).


Five themes emerged: comprehension of health risks; self-reported drinking intentions; comprehension of unit/standard drink information and/or LRDG; outcome expectancies; and label attention. Labelling can improve awareness, particularly of health harms, but is unlikely to change behaviour. Improved comprehension was greatest for labels with unit information and LRDG.


Alcohol labelling can be effective in improving people’s comprehension of the health risks involved in drinking alcohol enabling them to make informed consumption decisions, and perhaps thereby provide a route to changing behaviour. Thus, effective alcohol labelling is an intervention that can be added to the broader suite of policy options. That being said, the literature reviewed here suggests that the specific format of the label matters, so careful consideration must be given to the design and placement of labels.

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