This study examined the extent to which industry and non-industry actors draw from the same (vs. different) bodies of peer-reviewed evidence in submissions to alcohol advertising policy consultations.
Submissions (n = 71) to two Australian public consultations about alcohol advertising policy were classified as submitted by industry or non-industry actors. Details of cited journal articles were extracted. Articles were coded according to whether: (i) cited in industry and/or non-industry actor submission/s; (ii) findings were supported or contested by the submitter; and (iii) the article was a systematic review. The most frequently cited first authors were identified.
In total, 126 articles were cited in 45 industry actor submissions and 159 articles were cited in 26 non-industry actor submissions. Only seven articles were cited by both groups. Authors cited most frequently by one actor group were rarely cited by the other group. The first author most cited by industry actors declared alcohol industry links in two articles. Industry actors cited three systematic reviews (and contested the findings); non-industry actors cited (and supported) seven systematic reviews.
Discussion and Conclusion
There was a low degree of overlap in peer-reviewed evidence cited by industry and non-industry actors in submissions to Australian alcohol advertising policy consultations. Industry actors often omitted or contested high-quality evidence. Industry actors placed greater emphasis on evidence published by one industry-linked researcher than on evidence from systematic reviews and researchers with no apparent conflicts of interest. The findings raise questions about the suitability of industry actors to participate in evidence-informed policymaking processes.