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National alcohol use prevalence survey in Sri Lanka


LC Somatunga ,

Ministry of Health, LK
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LVR Ratnayake,

Ministry of Health, LK
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WMDNK Wijesinghe,

Ministry of Health, LK
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YMMM Yapa,

Ministry of Health, LK
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MPNS Cooray

Ministry of Health, LK
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NOTE: On 27/01/2015, the identification code for this paper was changed from E7 TO E9. and on 06/05/2015, the initial of the author was changed from IC to LC.

Background: Alcohol consumption is a risk factor for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD). A national NCD risk factor survey conducted in Sri Lanka in 2008 estimated a prevalence of alcohol use of 26% among males aged between 17–64 years. It is important to assess the current situation, in order to determine trends in alcohol consumption in the country which will contribute to planning of comprehensive prevention programmes.

Objective: To determine the prevalence of alcohol use and the pattern of drinking of alcohol in Sri Lanka.

Methods: A descriptive cross sectional study was conducted in the 14 to 64 year age group. Sample size was 3750 comprising 750 participants in each 10 year age/sex stratum (250 males and 500 females). Out of this figure 3728 responded Multi stage cluster sampling technique was used and a Public Health Midwife (PHM) area was considered as a cluster. Data were collected using an interviewer administered questionnaire obtained from the “Alcohol” module of the WHO STEP wise approach. Core variables and some expanded variables were assessed in the data collection tool. Data collectors (n=36) were PHMs attached to the Medical Officer of Health office in the area where the cluster was selected. Analysis was done using SPSS version 16 and results in relation to prevalence of alcohol use were presented as percentages.

Results: Prevalence of current drinkers were 39.6% among males and 2.4% among females when adjusted to the population of the districts in which the sample was obtained. .The most consumed type, among those who have ever used alcohol is beer (76.9%) followed by spirits (51.5%), wine (25.8%), kasippu (22.2%), palmyrah toddy (16.9%), toddy (16.8%) and other types not detailed in the questionnaire (5.3%).

Conclusions: Alcohol consumption has increased since the last survey in 2008 (male: 26%, female: 1.2%). Preventative activities focusing on vulnerable groups should be implemented at the national as well as regional levels. At the same time non-drinkers must be routinely addressed to sustain their status. As prevalence is high among males a targeted cost effective rehabilitation programme should be prioritised. The increasing trend among female drinking indicates the need of primary preventive actions targeted at them.

Journal of the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine 2014;1(1):E9:1-12


How to Cite: Somatunga, L., Ratnayake, L., Wijesinghe, W., Yapa, Y. and Cooray, M., 2014. National alcohol use prevalence survey in Sri Lanka. Journal of the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, 1, pp.E9:1–12. DOI:
Published on 26 Dec 2014.
Peer Reviewed


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