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Both alcohol and neighborhood characteristics can affect intimate partner violence

  • Heavy drinking has consistently been linked to an increased risk of intimate partner violence (IPV).
  • New findings indicate that drinking patterns as well as neighborhood characteristics can influence IPV.
  • While specific effects differ by gender; women who are the heaviest drinkers are at elevated risk for mutual IPV despite the context of their neighborhood.
While heavy drinking has consistently been linked to an increased risk of intimate partner violence (IPV), a new study has found that both drinking patterns and neighborhood characteristics can contribute in different ways to mutual IPV among married/cohabiting adults in the general population.

Results are published in the June issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The link between heavy drinking and increased risk of IPV is fairly well established, according to Carol B. Cunradi, senior research scientist at Prevention Research Center and sole author of the study. However, she noted, IPV researchers are increasingly examining the role of other factors that may exacerbate this link.

"Social disorganization theory, along with other macro-sociological theories, incorporate the larger environmental context of people's interactions within their neighborhood context into explanations of the conditions under which problem behaviors such as IPV may grow and thrive," explained Cunradi. "IPV, like child abuse, typically is a private event that occurs in the home; social disorganization theory suggests that it is essential to consider the neighborhood conditions in which the home is located."

"Although many researchers and authors have speculated that neighborhood and community have an influence on behaviors such as IPV," added William Fals-Stewart, professor in the school of medicine at the University of Rochester, "this study is among the very first to examine IPV within the societal context of where it occurs.
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