Alcohol outlets, neighborhood characteristics, and intimate partner violence: ecological analysis of a California city

Carol B Cunradi, Christina Mair, William Ponicki, Lillian Remer
Journal of Urban Health 2011, 88 (2): 191-200
Neighborhood indicators of social disadvantage, such as poverty and unemployment, are associated with intimate partner violence (IPV). Despite the well-established link between heavy drinking and IPV, few studies have analyzed the contribution of alcohol outlet density to the occurrence of IPV. Greater numbers of alcohol outlets in a community may be a sign of loosened normative constraints against violence, promote problem drinking among at-risk couples, and provide environments where groups of persons at risk for IPV may form and mutually reinforce IPV-related attitudes, norms, and problem behaviors. This study used ecological data to determine if alcohol outlet density (number of bars, restaurants serving alcohol, and off-premise outlets per unit area) is related to rates of IPV-related police calls and IPV-related crime reports in Sacramento, California. Separate analyses for IPV calls and crime reports were conducted using Bayesian space-time models adjusted for area characteristics (poverty rate, unemployment rate, racial/ethnic composition). The results showed that each additional off-premise alcohol outlet is associated with an approximate 4% increase in IPV-related police calls and an approximate 3% increase in IPV-related crime reports. Bars and restaurants were not associated with either outcome. The findings suggest that alcohol outlet density, especially off-premise outlets, appear to be related to IPV events. Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms by which neighborhood factors, such as alcohol outlet density, affect IPV behaviors. Understanding these mechanisms is of public health importance for developing environmental IPV prevention strategies, such as changes in zoning, community action, education, and enforcement activities.

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