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Keywords:

  • Aggression severity;
  • alcohol-related aggression;
  • drinking pattern;
  • perceived intoxication level;
  • social context

ABSTRACT

Aims  The present study examines the relationships between: (1) alcohol involvement/perceived intoxication level of participants and aggression severity; (2) respondent drinking patterns and involvement in alcohol-related aggression; and (3) social context and alcohol-related aggression.

Design  Random digit dialing (RDD) with computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) was used to obtain a random sample of Ontario adults aged 18–60 (response rate of 67%).

Participants  Respondents who reported that they had been involved personally in physical aggression in the past 12 months were the focus of the present study.

Measurements  Questions were asked regarding the most recent incident of physical aggression, including whether the respondent and opponent drank alcohol prior to aggression, perceived intoxication levels at the time, number of participants, relationship to opponent, social context of aggression, time of day and day of week. Three items were used to assess aggression severity: injury to respondent, use of threats by respondent or opponent and police involvement.

Findings  (1) Injury to respondent and threats by respondent were not associated with alcohol involvement per se, but were significantly related to perceived level of alcohol intoxication; (2) drinking pattern of respondent was significantly associated with alcohol-related aggression but unrelated to aggression that did not involve alcohol; and (3) a number of contextual factors (e.g. gender, number of participants, time of day) were found to be associated with alcohol involvement in aggression.

Conclusions  The results suggest that both drinking pattern and contextual factors are important in distinguishing between alcohol-related aggression and non-alcohol-related aggression. As well, alcohol intoxication may be an important predictor of aggression severity.