Having a high number of bars or pubs in a neighbourhood is associated with visits to hospital emergency departments due to domestic 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 domestic violence cases in California emergency rooms between July 2005 and December 2008.
The study appears online and in a print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
Researchers knew that alcohol increases emergency department visits for domestic violence on an individual level, but wanted to further examine certain neighbourhood characteristics, study corresponding author Carol Cunradi, a senior research scientist at the Prevention Research Centre, 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 domestic 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 domestic violence.
"Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms that underlie these associations," she added.
Emergency visits represent a much more serious level of domestic violence than police reports, according to Cunradi.
"Police-reported cases may involve threatening behaviour, 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."
(HealthDay News, February 2012)