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Archives of Public Health

Volume 73 Supplement 1

Methods in Epidemiology Symposium

Open Access

Context matters: faculty norms on binge drinking relate to binge drinking behaviour in higher education

  • Joris Van Damme1,
  • Anne Hublet1,
  • Bart De Clercq1,
  • John McAlaney2,
  • Guido Van Hal3,
  • Johan Rosiers4,
  • Lea Maes1 and
  • Els Clays1
Archives of Public HealthThe official journal of the Belgian Public Health Association201573(Suppl 1):P13

Published: 17 September 2015


In higher education binge drinking is an important problem. To target binge drinking in students, studying the social context of students is necessary. Faculties are social contexts in which students behave, but little is known about how faculty binge drinking norms relate to monthly binge drinking. In this study, this relationship is investigated in addition to known personal determinants.


Data were collected from 7,181 students in 22 faculty-level units, using an anonymous online survey. Multilevel analyses were used to investigate the relationship of both individual-level determinants (i.e., perceived binge drinking norms and social drinking motives) and faculty-level binge drinking norms, with monthly binge drinking.


Almost two-third (62.2%) of the sample was female and the mean age was 21.06 (SD = 2.85) years. In males, significant faculty-level variance in monthly binge drinking was found. At faculty-level only faculty binge drinking norms about male students showed a positive relationship (OR = 2.586; 95%CI = [1.025, 6.522]). At individual level both perceived binge drinking norms about male and female students, and social drinking motives positively related to monthly binge drinking. In females no significant faculty-level variance was found. Only individual-level determinants (i.e., perceived binge drinking norms and social drinking motives) positively related to monthly binge drinking. No cross-level interactions were found.


Faculties are especially in men relevant environmental structures and networks to take into account besides individual determinants when targeting binge drinking in higher education.

Authors’ Affiliations

Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Antwerp University, Antwerp, Belgium
Association for Alcohol and other Drug problems, Brussels, Belgium


© Van Damme et al. 2015

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.