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Revealing the link between licensed outlets and violence: Counting venues versus measuring alcohol availability


Wenbin Liang MBBS Medicine, MPH (Public Health), PhD (Public Health), Research Fellow, Tanya Chikritzhs BA (Hons), Grad Dip (Epi & Biostats), PhD, Associate Professor. Associate Professor Tanya Chikritzhs, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia. Tel: +61 8 9266 1609 (direct); +61 8 9266 1600 (main); Fax: +61 8 9266 1611; E-mail:


Introduction and Aims.Associations between alcohol-related harms and numbers of outlets at the neighbourhood level have been demonstrated; however, the degree to which alcohol consumption or sales plays a part in levels of violence is not clear. This has contributed to uncertainty regarding the actual mechanisms by which outlet density may influence levels of violence. This ecological cross-sectional study investigated the effect of outlet numbers and alcohol sales on the risk of assault in Western Australia.

Design and Methods.For 2000/2001, information on type, number and wholesale alcohol purchases of all licensed outlets in operation, police-reported assault offences, socioeconomic/demographic data were obtained from official sources. Multivariate negative binomial regression was applied to at local government area level in order to assess associations between outlet density, alcohol sales and violence occurring in both licensed and domestic settings.

Results.Average alcohol sales volume per off-site outlet was significantly associated with all measures of assault. Numbers of on-site outlets significantly predicted violence with the exception of assaults occurring at residential premises. Alcohol sales from off-site outlets predicted violence occurring at on-site outlets.

Discussion and Conclusions.The link between on-site outlets and violence may be primarily underpinned by negative amenity effects while off-site outlet effects occur via increased availability. Alcohol sales volumes from off-site outlets influence levels of violence, which occur at both licensed and residential settings. The substantial and wide-ranging effects of liquor stores on alcohol-related harms may have been underestimated in the literature and by policy makers.[Liang W, Chikritzhs T. Revealing the link between licensed outlets and violence: Counting venues versus measuring alcohol availability. Drug Alcohol Rev 2011;30:524–535]