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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2010 Mar;7(3):799-813. doi: 10.3390/ijerph7030799. Epub 2010 Mar 4.

Neighborhoods, alcohol outlets and intimate partner violence: addressing research gaps in explanatory mechanisms.

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Prevention Research Center, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, 1995 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704, USA.


Indices of heavy drinking have consistently been linked with increased risk for intimate partner violence (IPV) among couples in the general household population. Because IPV is a 'private' event, most IPV research has focused on individual-level risk factors, but current social ecological theory suggests that alcohol outlets can act with neighborhood conditions to increase risks for IPV. This paper reviews the theoretical and empirical literatures relevant to identifying specific social mechanisms linking IPV to alcohol use in community settings, and discusses three social mechanisms relevant to these effects: greater numbers of alcohol outlets within a neighborhood may (1) be a sign of loosened normative constraints against violence; (2) promote problem alcohol use among at-risk couples, and; (3) provide environments where groups of persons at risk for IPV may form and mutually reinforce IPV-related attitudes, norms, and problem behaviors. Understanding these mechanisms is of critical public health importance for developing environmental strategies aimed at prevention of IPV, such as changes in zoning, community action and education, and policing.


alcohol outlets; drinking; intimate partner violence; neighborhoods

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