Young Thai People’s Exposure to Alcohol Portrayals in Society and the Media: A Qualitative Study for Policy Implications

  • Ratchakorn KaewpramkusolEmail author
  • Kate Senior
  • Richard Chenhall
  • Sutham Nanthamongkolchai



Although previous quantitative studies have documented the association between exposure to alcohol portrayals and drinking attitudes in Western countries, few qualitative studies have explored this matter in Thailand. A better understanding of the association in young Thais is required for a more efficient alcohol policy development. This study aims to explore the information young Thais have learnt from exposure to alcohol portrayals in society and the media, examine how this exposure shapes their drinking attitudes, and investigate the alignment of policy-makers’ views on drinking with those of young people.


Two qualitative research methods were employed. Seventy-two university students (38 men, 34 women) aged 20–24 participated in focus groups conducted on campus. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with academia, civil society and representatives from government who were involved in alcohol policy. Recorded data were transcribed verbatim, systematically coded and analysed using content analysis.


Young Thais were regularly exposed to alcohol portrayals, particularly on social media and in their social environment. Being increasingly exposed to alcohol portrayals, particularly on social media, and the role of the alcohol industry emerged as concerning matters to the academia and civil society sectors. In response to the concerns, the government social media monitoring and alcohol censorship had become more challenging.


This study reflects the growing concerns from academia and civil society sectors of the impacts of increased alcohol exposure and the role that the industry may have on young people’s drinking attitudes. It highlights the need for response to significant policy challenges to reduce these impacts.


Alcohol Alcohol policy Censorship Media Qualitative Thailand 



This research has been conducted with the support of the Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship. We are very grateful to the respondents and participants who kindly contributed to the study. This work was carried out with funding from University of Wollongong School of Health and Society, and Thailand’s Center for Alcohol Studies, and with general support from Mahidol University and the Global Health Division, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand. The funding bodies had no role in the study design, analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.


This study was funded by University of Wollongong School of Health and Society, and Center for Alcohol Studies, Thai Health Promotion Foundation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants/respondents included in the study.


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health and Society, Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.Global Health Division, Office of the Permanent SecretaryMinistry of Public HealthNonthaburiThailand
  3. 3.Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health SciencesThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Family Health, Faculty of Public HealthMahidol UniversityBangkokThailand

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