The Relationship Between Patterns of Alcohol Use and Knowledge of Alcohol-Attributable Health Conditions: A Survey Among Students at a South African University

Andrew Mandeya1, Daniel Ter Goon1, *
1 Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa

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Creative Commons License
© 2019 Mandeya and Goon.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa; Tel: 0798572280; E-mail:



While many studies exist on the prevalence of alcohol use among South African university students, such information is scant for universities in the Eastern Cape Province. This study examines the prevalence of alcohol use among students at one university in the Eastern Cape, the relationship between such use and the knowledge of alcohol-attributable health conditions and biographical characteristics.


The cross-sectional study involved 213 students enrolled in a statistics service course. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect information on various biographical characteristics, alcohol use and health knowledge. The English version of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) questionnaire was used to measure alcohol use. The Mann-Whitney and Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to compare health knowledge across levels of alcohol use and biographical variables. Multiple logistic regression was applied to determine patterns of association between alcohol use and health knowledge, and biographical variables.


The prevalence rates of alcohol use and risky alcohol use were 58.2% and 42.7%, respectively. Health knowledge was generally low and significantly higher among alcohol users (Z=-2.7; p=0.0074) and those whose fathers had a post-matric education X2=6.4; p=0.0410) and/or employment (Z=-2.7; p=0.0064). Males, returning students and those with employed fathers were found to have a higher chance of alcohol use.


Alcohol use among students was high and knowledge of alcohol-attributable diseases was low. These results suggest a need for health promotion interventions for the general student population and/or risk reduction interventions for risky alcohol users.

Keywords: Alcohol use, Alcohol-attributable diseases, Health knowledge, University students, Risk reduction, Health promotion, South Africa.