The risk of intimate partner violence varies by ethnicity

September 14, 2003

Survey research from the past 25 years indicates that approximately one in five couples has experienced an episode of intimate partner violence (IPV) in the preceding year. A longitudinal study in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has found that black and Hispanic couples are two to three times more likely to report male-to-female and female-to-male partner violence than white couples, even after statistically controlling for socio-demographic and psychosocial variables, including alcohol consumption.

Researchers collected initial data for this study in 1995, surveying 1,635 married or cohabitating couples 18 years of age or older and living in households in the United States. In 2000, a follow-up survey reached 1,025 of these same couples, including 406 white, 232 black, and 387 Hispanic couples. Specific risk factors examined included male and female reports of a history of childhood abuse, exposure to parental violence, impulsivity, alcohol problems, frequency of drinking five or more drinks per occasion, volume of alcohol consumed per week in average standard drinks, approval of marital aggression, and male-to-female and female-to-male partner violence at baseline.

"We found higher rates of partner violence in ethnic minority groups," said Craig A. Field, a professor at The University of Texas Houston School of Public Health, Dallas Regional Campus, and corresponding author for the study. "Black and Hispanic couples reported at least twice the prevalence rate of both male-to-female and female-to-male partner violence."

White couples reported rates of male-to-female and female-to-male partner violence at eight and 10 percent, respectively. In contrast, black couples reported rates of 20% and 22%, respectively; Hispanic couples reported rates of 21% and 20%, respectively.

"The risk factors for male-to-female and female-to-male partner violence, however, appear to vary across ethnic groups," said Field. "For example, drinking patterns may be a significant risk factor for the development of partner violence across time among white couples, while impulsivity may be a significant risk factor for its development among ethnic minorities. These results suggest that ... there is a complex interaction between ethnicity and individual attributes of the couples."

"While not all cases of IPV are associated with alcohol," added Carol B. Cunradi, epidemiologist and research scientist at the Berkeley, California-based Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, "research over the past few decades indicates that alcohol consumption - especially heavy drinking and alcohol problems - features prominently as a key risk factor in the initiation, prevalence, and persistence of IPV over time. This study addresses an important gap in the current literature by modeling predictors of IPV within ethnic groups ... and finding that alcohol appears to play a differential role in the occurrence of IPV over time in couples across ethnic groups, and that the alcohol use patterns of both the male and female need to be considered."

"The developmental course of partner violence may vary across ethnic groups," said Field. "For example, black couples reporting male-to-female partner violence were more likely to report both forms of partner violence five years later, while Hispanic couples reporting female-to-male partner violence were more likely to report both forms of partner violence five years later." Field said this information could be used to help identify couples most at risk for couples at risk for escalation of partner violence across time.

Furthermore, he said, the findings of male impulsivity as a significant risk factor among minorities and male alcohol consumption as a significant risk factor among white couples have important implications for prevention and intervention. "It may be that brief alcohol interventions are more effective among white couples, and interventions focusing on anger management may be more useful for minority couples. However, the application of this knowledge from the general population to clinical settings requires further evaluation."

"Simply put," said Cunradi, "the contribution of alcohol, socio-demographic and psychosocial factors to IPV risk may vary across ethnic groups. Therefore, researchers and clinicians involved with IPV prevention and intervention need to be aware of these ethnic differences, and consider those factors most relevant to the populations they work with when designing studies or prevention programs."
-end-
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research (ACER) is the official journal of the Research Society on Alcoholism and the International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism. The co-author of and principle investigator for the ACER paper was Raul Caetano of The University of Texas Houston School of Public Health, Dallas Regional Campus. The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (through a merit award to Dr. Caetano).

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.