February 20, 2012

If Bars are Close, Violence May Be Closer

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Chris Galloway, M.D. By:

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Alcoholism and intimate partner violence linked to neighborhood bar density

(dailyRx News) Growing research has developed indicating risk factors for potential violence in intimate relationships that come from both genetic and environmental sources, and new research suggests a person’s proximity to the neighborhood bar scene may contribute to their aggression at home. 

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded a study examining the effects of neighborhood bar density on emergency room visits linked to intimate partner violence and discovered that more bars around, the more ER visits.

"Talk to a counselor if violence occurs in your home.  "

Lead author on the study, Carol Cunradi, Ph.D., of the Prevention Resource Center in Berkeley, California has a background of research on intimate partner violence, and she knows men who drink hazardously while in a relationship are more likely to get violent with their partner than those who have control while drinking.

And while her research isn’t as substantial for women’s intake, her studies into male and female inmates arrested for partner assault found both sexes admitting that alcohol contributed to their behavior.

Dr. Cunradi understands that the environment one's in can influence alcohol use, and she proved in 2010 that as alcohol outlet density increased so did police reports of assaults between couples. In this study, Cunradi and colleagues examined various alcohol distribution densities and coincident emergency department visits in over 1,686 zip codes throughout California.

Densities were computed separately dependent on establishment—bars, off-premise outlets, and restaurants—for each zip code for seven six-month increments between July 2005 and December 2008.

The results indicated that California’s emergency departments averaged 23.6 incidences of intimate partner violence every six months. The average zip code had one bar, three off-premise distributors, and five restaurants per square mile. Some had as high as 443 restaurants in each square mile of a zip code, on average.

“An increase of 1 bar per square mile was associated with a three-percent increased likelihood of intimate partner violence-related emergency department visits in a given zip code,” writes Cunradi and her co-authors.

On the contrary, “an additional off-premise outlet per square mile was associated with a one-percent reduction in the risk of intimate partner violence-related emergency department visits,” while restaurant density was not related at all.

These results were published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research on February 15, 2012 and reported no conflicts within their research.

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Reviewed by: 
Chris Galloway, M.D.
Review Date: 
February 20, 2012

Last Updated:
February 20, 2012