Objectives This study examined the prevalence of risky drinking by members of parliament (MPs), as well as the relationship between risky drinking and age, years spent as an MP, working outside parliament, awareness of the Parliamentary Health and Wellbeing Service, and probable mental ill health. Design A survey questionnaire assessed alcohol consumption using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Risky drinking was identified by combining categories of increasing (hazardous), higher (harmful) and probable dependent drinking for those with a total score of 8 or more. Comparator groups from the 2014 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) were used as controls. Setting UK House of Commons. Participants 650 MPs. Results Compared with all 650 MPs, participants (n=146) were more likely to be female (p<0.05) or have an educational qualification (p<0.05). Weighted proportions on AUDIT items were higher than the APMS comparator group for participants who had a drink four or more times a week, 10 or more drinks on a typical drinking day, six or more drinks in one occasion, or felt guilty because of drinking (p<0.01). Weighted percentages for risky drinking were higher in MPs compared with the whole English population (p<0.05), but similar when compared with socioeconomic comparator groups. The odds of risky drinking were 2.74 times greater for MPs who had an additional work role outside parliament compared with those who did not (95% CI 0.98 to 7.65) and 2.4 times greater for MPs with probable mental ill health compared with those with no evidence of probable mental ill health (95% CI 0.78 to 7.43). Conclusions A low level of awareness of the Parliamentary Health and Wellbeing Service has implications for improving the detection of risky drinking and improving access to this service by MPs. Possible increased likelihood of risky drinking in MPs who also had an additional work role outside Parliament and among those with probable mental ill health requires further exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere034929
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2020


  • alcohol consumption
  • Members of Parliament (MPs)
  • policy making
  • politicians
  • UK


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