Hunger, impulsivity, childhood trauma, and drinking contribute to intimate partner violence

Intimate partner violence (IPV) – commonly known as domestic violence, and long associated with drinking – is a significant public health problem. Examination of patients treated at urban Emergency Departments(EDs) shows that choice of drinking venues, such as bars or restaurants, and amount consumed there, appear to have little influence on IPV risk. These results and others will be shared at the 42ndannual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) in Minneapolis June 22-26.

“Examining the impact of social context of drinking on IPV risk can provide new information that could help prevent alcohol-related IPV,” said Carol B. Cunradi, senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. “For example, if environments frequented by drinkers with permissive social norms towards aggression – such as ‘violent’ bars – are linked to IPV, then interventions could target those risky bars. Or if drinking in specific contexts or settings such as parties is associated with IPV, interventions at the community level could limit drinking in those settings.”

Cunradiwill discuss her findings at the RSA meeting on Sunday, June 23.

“We evaluated associations between IPV and the frequency and quantity of drinking in six different contexts: bars or pubs; restaurants; the home of a friend or relative; one’s own home; public settings such as parks and parking lots; and community centers, social halls or large events,” she explained.

“Approximately 23 percent of the sample reported past-year IPV involvement,” she said. However, she added, drinking contexts didnotsubstantively contribute to the frequency of IPV perpetration orvictimization among males or females. Contributing factors were more complicated.

“Results of our analyses showed that food insufficiency, impulsivity, and adverse childhood experiences were related to IPV perpetration among men and women,” she said. “In addition, having a partner who was a problem drinker was associated with male IPV perpetration; days of marijuana use was linked with female IPV perpetration. Many of these factors, and having a partner who was a problem drinker, were associated with IPV victimization for both genders. Previous analyses, however, had showed that frequency of intoxication and at-risk drinking (4+/5+ drinks per day for females/males) increases the likelihood of IPV.”

Addressing IPV requires a multi-faceted approach, Cunradi said. “Reducing spouse/partner problem drinking and eliminating food insufficiency may help reduce IPV among socially disadvantaged populations. In addition, prevention of adverse childhood experiences can potentially reduce future health and behavioral problems and should be a public health priority.”

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