More Neighborhood Bars Linked to Intimate Partner Violence

FRIDAY Feb. 17, 2012 -- Having a high number of bars or pubs in a neighborhood is associated with visits to hospital emergency departments due to intimate partner violence, a new study finds.

But there is no such link with restaurants that serve alcohol, according to the researchers who examined the connection between alcohol-outlet densities and intimate partner violence cases in California emergency rooms between July 2005 and December 2008.

The study appears online and in the May print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Researchers knew that alcohol increases emergency department visits for intimate partner violence on an individual level, but wanted to further examine certain neighborhood characteristics, study corresponding author Carol Cunradi, a senior research scientist at the Prevention Research Center, said in a journal news release.

The researchers also looked at off-premise outlets: liquor stores and grocery stores that sell alcohol.

"The key findings of the study are that the density of bars was positively associated with [emergency department visits from intimate partner violence], and the density of off-premise outlets was negatively associated with [these visits]," Cunradi said.

"For the latter finding, the association was weaker and smaller than the bar association," she said, and there was no association between restaurant density and emergency department visits for intimate partner violence.

"Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms that underlie these associations," she added.

Emergency visits represent a much more serious level of intimate partner violence than police reports, according to Cunradi.

"Police-reported [intimate partner violence] cases may involve threatening behavior, property damage, loud arguments and physical aggression that may or may not result in injury," she said. "In contrast, [emergency department] visits are, by definition, injuries requiring medical attention."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about intimate partner violence.

Posted: February 2012


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