Category: Addictive Behaviors
Epidemiological data on alcohol consumption are typically collected via self-report questionnaires that require individuals to indicate the number of drinks they recently consumed. Research suggests individuals are unable to identify a standard drink size, and their self-report may be influenced by environmental variables, calling into question the reliability and validity of self-report. The purpose of the current study is twofold. First, it provides an updated systematic review of the free-pour assessment, an objective measure which may provide a clearer picture of current alcohol consumption trends, individuals’ knowledge of standard drink sizes, and accuracy of self-report. Second, it provides recommendations for improving assessment, prevention, and interventions for alcohol use behavior. We reviewed a total of 28 articles: 14 free-pour articles previously reviewed by Devos-Comby & Lange (2008) and an additional 14 articles identified through a combination of a PyschINFO search and hand search of references. Most articles included a typical consumption free-pour assessment (n=20), in which participants were asked to pour the amount they typically drink into vessels most often used for drinking. Fewer articles used a standard drink knowledge free-pour assessment (n=6), in which participants were asked to pour what they believed to be a standard serving of various types of alcohol. Two studies included both types of assessments. In addition to providing methodological details of each study, results were assessed using a common metric; results of the pouring procedures are reported as percent over or under compared to a standard drink size. Findings from this systematic review of existing free-pour assessment studies suggest a majority individuals are unable to identify and pour standard drink sizes. Using a common metric, 26 of the 28 identified studies found some evidence of pouring more than a standard drink size. The largest discrepancies occurred for liquor and wine pours, and pours into larger and wider glasses. Additional variables that appeared to influence pouring behavior were gender, drinking history, and contextual cues such as the use of real alcohol versus water; however, additional research is necessary to better understand the effects of these variables on pouring behavior. Overall, findings from the free-pour assessment have important implications for the accuracy of self-report measures, as well as clinical implications for alcohol use screenings, alcohol education courses, and brief interventions for alcohol use. Recommendations for using the free-pour assessment in applied and clinical settings applications and directions for future research of the free-pour assessment are discussed.