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The greater the number of bars in a neighborhood, the higher the rates of assault

The greater the number of bars in a neighborhood, the higher the rates of assault
  • A new study analyzes the relationship between alcohol outlets and overnight hospital stays due to assaults.
  • Results indicate the greater the density of alcohol outlets, especially bars, the higher the rates of assault.
  • The authors speculate that failure to regulate growth in outlet numbers will lead to higher rates of violence, especially in urban areas.

Roughly 15 years of research has shown that the availability of alcohol as measured by the number and types of alcohol outlets is directly related to interpersonal violence. A longitudinal study spanning six years is the first of its kind to use overnight hospital stays to reexamine the influence of alcohol outlets upon violent assaults. Findings confirm that the greater the outlet density, the higher the rates of assault.

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

"Hospital discharges are carefully tracked throughout the state of California and provide accurate assessments of causes of injury," said Paul J. Gruenewald, senior research scientist at the Prevention Research Center. "Included among these are 'assaults,' or injuries that arise from some form of interpersonal violence. About one out of 10 assaults recorded by police are severe enough to require hospitalization. Thus, assaults recorded in hospital discharge data represent the most severe cases of interpersonal violence, short of death, that occur in the state." Gruenewald is also the first author of the study.

Using hospital-discharge data on violent assaults rather than crime reports from law enforcement officials also helps to control reporting biases, added Richard Scribner, professor of preventive medicine at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. "For example, residents of a neighborhood with high levels of police mistrust migh
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25-Jun-2006


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