A systematic review of children's alcohol-related knowledge, attitudes and expectancies Academic Article uri icon


  • Understanding the nature of, and transitions in, young children's alcohol-related knowledge and attitudes is important to determining the age at which we should start educating children about alcohol and informing our understanding of the focus of such education. This paper aimed to explore current literature on the alcohol-related knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and expectancies of children aged 12years and under. Electronic databases were searched for papers published from January 2000-August 2016. Further papers were identified by a manual review of reference lists, and contacting corresponding authors of included papers. Papers that reported on children's knowledge or beliefs about alcohol, attitudes towards alcohol and/or expectancies regarding alcohol consumption were included. Seventeen cross-sectional, experimental or observational studies and seven longitudinal studies met the inclusion criteria. Data on key measures was tabulated. From a very young age children are aware of and able to identify alcohol, and have some knowledge of its effects; their attitudes become more positive with increasing age and these shifts appear to precede drinking initiation by some years. The small number of available studies, with different measures of knowledge, attitudes and expectancies, made assessment of bias unfeasible. Only three studies were published in the last five years. Children's knowledge of, and attitudes towards, alcohol form before they initiate alcohol use, and are likely acquired through observation. Alcohol-related education should commence before children begin drinking, and should encourage the delay of alcohol initiation, address social norms, and reduce positive expectancies.

publication date

  • 2017