For couples living in socially disadvantaged neighborhoods, alcohol outlets can interact synergistically with deleterious neighborhood conditions to increase their risk for engaging in intimate partner violence (IPV). This may happen by way of two mechanisms: changes in normative constraints, or effects due to alcohol use. The presence of alcohol outlets, in the context of disadvantaged neighborhood conditions, may signal to residents that the mechanisms of informal social control are not working, making them less likely to intervene if others engage in IPV, or making them less constrained in their own behavior toward their spouse/partner. Exposure to alcohol outlets, along with other noxious neighborhood conditions, may lead to heavier drinking, thereafter increasing IPV risk. The overall goal of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of how environmental factors, such as alcohol outlet density and neighborhood social disadvantage, interact with individual- and couple-level characteristics to increase risk for IPV. Using a multi-methods approach, including geo-statistical analyses of archival (i.e., Census and alcohol outlet) data from 50 California cities with populations between 50,000 and 500,000, and multilevel analysis of survey data from 2,000 married/cohabiting couples, our specific aims are to: 1. Estimate the prevalence of self-reported IPV and problem drinking among married/cohabiting couples in relation to alcohol outlet density (and type) and neighborhood social disadvantage. 2. Investigate the constituent social mechanisms (i.e., low collective efficacy, community nonintervention norms, and psychological distress) that underlie the relationships between neighborhood social disadvantage and self-reported IPV, and determine if alcohol outlet density (and type) moderates these relationships. 3. Determine if greater availability of alcohol (i.e., alcohol outlet density) is associated with heavier drinking and increased self-reported IPV, and if neighborhood social disadvantage moderates these associations. 4. Determine if the relationships between couple- and individual-level risk factors (e.g., non-white race/ethnicity, younger age, lower household socioeconomic status) and self-reported IPV are differentially affected by level of neighborhood social disadvantage. By linking individual/couple factors, such as drinking behavior, to environmental factors, this study will help to illuminate the interrelationships between individual and place in the production of IPV. 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.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Comprehensive Center (P60)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1)
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Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
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