Does alcohol involvement increase the severity of intimate partner violence?

Christy M. McKinney, Raul Caetano, Lori A. Rodriguez, Ngozi Okoro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Background: Most studies that have examined alcohol use immediately prior to intimate partner violence (IPV) have been limited to male-to-female partner violence (MFPV) and are subject to a number of methodological limitations. We add new information concerning the relationship between alcohol involvement and severity of IPV, MFPV, and female-to-male partner violence (FMPV). Methods: We analyzed data from a 1995 U.S. national population-based survey of couples ≥18 years old. We examined 436 couples who reported IPV and had information on alcohol involvement with IPV. We measured IPV using a revised Conflict Tactics Scale, Form R that asked respondents about 11 violent behaviors in the past year. Respondents were classified into mutually exclusive categories as having experienced mild only or mild + severe ("severe") IPV, MFPV or FMPV. Respondents were also asked if they or their partner were drinking at the time the violent behavior occurred and were classified as exposed to IPV with or without alcohol involvement. We estimated proportions, odds ratios, 95% confidence intervals, and p-values of the proposed associations, accounting for the complex survey design. Results: Overall, 30.2% of couples who reported IPV reported alcohol involved IPV; 69.8% reported no alcohol involvement. In adjusted analyses, those reporting severe (vs. mild only) IPV were more than twice as likely to report alcohol involvement. In adjusted analyses, those reporting severe (vs. mild) MFPV or FMPV were more likely to report female but not male alcohol involvement. Though estimates were positive and strong, most confidence intervals were compatible with a wide range of estimates including no association. Conclusions: Our findings suggest alcohol involvement of either or both in the couple increases the risk of severe IPV. Our findings also suggest female alcohol use may play an important role in determining the severity of IPV, MFPV or FMPV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655-658
Number of pages4
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Abused Women
  • Alcohol
  • Partner Abuse
  • Spouse Abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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