The Effects of Dehydration and Moderate Alcohol Consumption on Human Behaviour and Performance

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Desbrow, Ben

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Shum, David

Leveritt, Michael

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Human behaviour and performance are influenced by many factors. Alcohol consumption and dehydration are two factors that have individually been shown to have a detrimental impact on human behaviour and performance. Both of these factors have received significant scientific attention. Individuals may consume alcohol following a period of physical activity that causes fluid loss and results in dehydration. One could easily speculate that in combination, these factors may have a greater negative impact on performance and behaviour than in isolation. However, until now the combined effect of dehydration and alcohol consumption on human behaviour and performance has not been investigated. This thesis describes four main research studies in addition to four pilot investigations that were designed to examine the effects of dehydration and alcohol consumption on human behaviour and performance, specifically the cognitive skills related to driving a motor vehicle and driving-related risk taking behaviour. In Research Study One, the hydration status of industrial workers was monitored over two work days before exploring typical post-work behaviours, attitudes and perceptions relating to alcohol consumption. Results from this study indicated that approximately one-third of workers were inadequately hydrated either at the beginning or end of work shifts. With respect to alcohol consumption, most of the workers believed drinking alcohol after work was acceptable, and a lack of consideration for hydration levels was indicated prior to consuming alcohol. The findings from this study suggest that some individuals are likely to consume alcohol following a period of physical activity that causes dehydration.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Public Health

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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.

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Human behavior, Influence of alcohol

Human behavior, Influence of dehydration

Human performance, Influence of alcohol

Human performance, Influence of dehydration

Motor vehicle driving ability, Influence of alcohol

Driving-related risk taking behaviour

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