The Prevalence and Association between the Type of Alcohol Drink Consumed and Exposure to Violence: An Emergency Department Study

Cynthia Chavira (
Primary Care, Charles Drew University and David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
October, 2009
Cynthia Chavira, MS IV
Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science and David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA


C. Chavira, S. Bazargan-Hejazi, M. L. Lee

BACKGROUND: There is a clear association between alcohol and violence and this association is even more pronounced among patients emergency departments. Few studies, however, have examined whether the type of alcohol consumed, irrespective of the number of drinks is associated with a higher exposure to violence.

METHODS: (1) we compared the prevalence of exposure to violence across different types of alcohol used and (2) the association between the type of alcohol used and exposure to violence among a sample of 295 patients identified as having an alcohol problem (CAGE ≥ 1). Outcome measures included the number of exposures to violence, assessed using the conflict tactics scale asking patients if in the last 12 months they have been: threatened or afraid for their safety; hit or slapped; kicked; pushed or shoved; stabbed; shot; sexually violated; physically threatened or none of the above. The main study predictor “type of alcohol drink” was measured by the type of drink usually consumed including: malt liquor beer, regular beer, wine cooler, wine, fortified wine and hard liquor. Covariates controlled for in the analysis include: number of drinks consumed in a one week period, number of illicit drugs used in the last 12 months, gender, ethnicity, education and marital status.

RESULTS: Of the sample 64% were African American, 80% were male. Regular beer (55%), malt liquor beer (37%), and hard liquor (31%) were the most prevalent reported drinks regularly consumed. Exposure to violence was reported as 23.5% and 69.5% reported using at least one type of illicit drug. Using multiple linear regression analysis, malt liquor beer (p = .04), number of drinks in a one week period (p = .03), and the number of drugs used (p < = .001) were independently associated with exposure to violence and together explained over 20% of the variations in the exposure to violence among this sample.

CONCLUSION: Regular beer was the most prevalent alcohol used in this sample; however, malt liquor beer was identified as the independent predictor of exposure to violence. The possible discrepancy between the actual type of alcohol drink consumed by ED patients and what is reported needs future investigation.

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