Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) remains a significant public health problem. The purpose of this study is to assess the contribution of drinking patterns to risk for mutual IPV among married/cohabiting adults in the general population, and to determine if the association between drinking level and mutual IPV varies by level of neighborhood social disorder.
Methods: The study sample consists of 19,035 non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic white married/cohabiting adults who participated in the 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), and whose responses were available through the NHSDA public use file. Gender-specific multivariate logistic regression models of mutual IPV were developed to assess the association between drinking level and mutual IPV, and to test whether these associations vary by neighborhood social disorder.
Results: Compared with men who are abstainers, men who are past-30 day heavy drinkers are at a more than 6-fold increased risk for mutual IPV. Men in less hazardous drinking categories are at a 2- to 3-fold increased risk of mutual IPV. Neighborhood disorder is independently associated with men's risk for mutual IPV (odds ratio=1.61). Except for women in the most hazardous drinking category, neighborhood disorder moderates the association between women's drinking level and risk of mutual IPV such that risk for mutual IPV significantly increases under conditions of high neighborhood disorder, and decreases to insignificant risk under conditions of low neighborhood disorder. Compared with abstainers, women who are past-30 day heavy drinkers are at an approximate 6-fold risk for mutual IPV regardless of level of neighborhood disorder.
Conclusions: Drinking level and neighborhood characteristics should be taken into account when assessing risk for mutual IPV among married/cohabiting men and women in the general population. An environmental approach to IPV prevention and intervention which addresses the neighborhood context in which couples reside may be a promising strategy for reducing IPV occurrence.