Testing a Social Mechanism: Does Alcohol Outlet Density Moderate the Relationship Between Levels of Alcohol Use and Child Physical Abuse?

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Objectives:Parental alcohol use and alcohol outlet density are both associated with child abuse. Guided by alcohol availability theory, this article examines whether alcohol outlet density moderates the relationship between parental alcohol use and child physical abuse.Methods:A general population telephone survey of 3,023 parents or legal guardians 18 years or older was conducted across 50 California cities, whereas densities of alcohol outlets were measured for by zip code. Data were analyzed via overdispersed multilevel Poisson models.Results:Ex-drinkers, light drinkers, and heavy drinkers use physical abuse more often than lifetime abstainers. Moderate drinking was not related to child physical abuse. Proportion of bars was negatively related to frequency of physical abuse. Moderating relationships between alcohol outlet density and drinking categories were found for all drinking patterns.Conclusion:Different types of alcohol outlets may be differentially related to drinking patterns, indicating that the interaction of drinking patterns and the drinking environment may place children at greater risk for being physically abused.

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