Spouse abuse and alcohol problems among white, African American, and Hispanic U.S. Army soldiers.Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2006 Oct; 30(10):1721-33.AC
Prior studies suggest racial/ethnic differences in the associations between alcohol misuse and spouse abuse. Some studies indicate that drinking patterns are a stronger predictor of spouse abuse for African Americans but not whites or Hispanics, while others report that drinking patterns are a stronger predictor for whites than African Americans or Hispanics. This study extends prior work by exploring associations between heavy drinking, alcohol-related problems, and risk for spouse abuse within racial/ethnic groups as well as variations associated with whether the perpetrator is drinking during the spouse abuse incident.
Cases (N=7,996) were all active-duty male, enlisted Army spouse abusers identified in the Army's Central Registry (ACR) who had also completed an Army Health Risk Appraisal (HRA) Survey between 1991 and 1998. Controls (N=17,821) were matched on gender, rank, and marital and HRA status.
We found 3 different patterns of association between alcohol use and domestic violence depending upon both the race/ethnicity of the perpetrator and whether or not alcohol was involved in the spouse abuse event. First, after adjusting for demographic and psychosocial factors, weekly heavy drinking (>14 drinks per week) and alcohol-related problems (yes to 2 or more of 6 alcohol-related problem questions, including the CAGE) were significant predictors of domestic violence among whites and Hispanics only. Also for the white soldiers, the presence of family problems mediated the effect of alcohol-related problems on spouse abuse. Second, alcohol-related problems predicted drinking during a spouse abuse incident for all 3 race groups, but this relation was moderated by typical alcohol consumption patterns in Hispanics and whites only. Finally, alcohol-related problems predicted drinking during a spouse abuse incident, but this was a complex association moderated by different psychosocial or behavioral variables within each race/ethnic group.
These findings suggest important cultural/social influences that interact with drinking patterns.