Harnessing advances in computer simulation to inform policy and planning to reduce alcohol-related harms

The alcohol modelling consortium, Jo An Atkinson, Dylan Knowles, John Wiggers, Michael Livingston, Robin Room, Ante Prodan, Geoff Mcdonnell, Eloise O’Donnell, Sandra Jones, Paul S. Haber, David Muscatello, Nadine Ezard, Nghi Phung, Louise Freebairn, Devon Indig, Lucie Rychetnik, Jaithri Ananthapavan, Sonia Wutzke, Kate ConigraveChris Rissel, Philip Coates, Ralph Moore, Leena Gupta, Fiona Renshaw, Karen Price, Jo Mitchell, Genevieve Whitlam, Nicola Lewis, Mark Heffernan, Michael Lambert, Sally Redman, Alan Shiell, Luke Penza, Andrew Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Alcohol misuse is a complex systemic problem. The aim of this study was to explore the feasibility of using a transparent and participatory agent-based modelling approach to develop a robust decision support tool to test alcohol policy scenarios before they are implemented in the real world. Methods: A consortium of Australia’s leading alcohol experts was engaged to collaboratively develop an agent-based model of alcohol consumption behaviour and related harms. As a case study, four policy scenarios were examined. Results: A 19.5 ± 2.5% reduction in acute alcohol-related harms was estimated with the implementation of a 3 a.m. licensed venue closing time plus 1 a.m. lockout; and a 9 ± 2.6% reduction in incidence was estimated with expansion of treatment services to reach 20% of heavy drinkers. Combining the two scenarios produced a 33.3 ± 2.7% reduction in the incidence of acute alcohol-related harms, suggesting a synergistic effect. Conclusions: This study demonstrates the feasibility of participatory development of a contextually relevant computer simulation model of alcohol-related harms and highlights the value of the approach in identifying potential policy responses that best leverage limited resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-546
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Agent-based modelling
  • Alcohol-related harm
  • Evidence synthesis
  • Prevention policy


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