Harnessing advances in computer simulation to inform policy and planning to reduce alcohol-related harms Academic Article uri icon


  • 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.


  • Atkinson, Jo-An
  • Knowles, Dylan
  • Wiggers, John
  • Livingston, Michael
  • Room, Robin
  • Prodan, Ante
  • McDonnell, Geoff
  • O’Donnell, Eloise
  • Jones, Sandra
  • Haber, Paul S
  • Muscatello, David
  • Ezard, Nadine
  • Phung, Nghi
  • Freebairn, Louise
  • Indig, Devon
  • Rychetnik, Lucie
  • Ananthapavan, Jaithri
  • Wutzke, Sonia
  • Shiell, Allan

publication date

  • 2018