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J Epidemiol Community Health doi:10.1136/jech.2009.104935
  • Research report

Alcohol outlet density, levels of drinking and alcohol-related harm in New Zealand: a national study

  1. Kimberly Cousins1
  1. 1Injury Prevention Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2. 2School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Australia
  3. 3Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Jennie Connor, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, PO Box 913, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand; jennie.connor{at}otago.ac.nz
  • Accepted 14 September 2010
  • Published Online First 14 October 2010

Abstract

Background Previous research shows associations of geographical density of alcohol outlets with a range of alcohol-related harms. Socioeconomic conditions that are associated with both outlet density and alcohol-related outcomes may confound many studies. We examined the association of outlet density with both consumption and harm throughout New Zealand while controlling for indicators of area deprivation and individual socioeconomic status (SES).

Methods Individual alcohol consumption and drinking consequences were measured in a 2007 national survey of 18–70 year olds (n=1925). All alcohol outlets in New Zealand were geocoded. Outlet density was the number of outlets of each type (off-licences (stores that sell alcoholic beverages for consumption elsewhere), bars, clubs, restaurants) within 1 km of a person's home. We modelled the association of outlet density with total consumption, binge drinking, risky drinking (above New Zealand guidelines) and two measures of effects (‘harms’ and ‘troubles’ due to drinking) in the previous year. Logistic regression and zero-inflated Poisson models were used, adjusting for sex, educational level, a deprivation index (NZDep06) and a rurality index.

Results No statistically significant association was seen between outlet density and either average alcohol consumption or risky drinking. Density of off-licences was positively associated with binge drinking, and density of all types of outlet was associated with alcohol-related harm scores, before and after adjustment for SES. Associations of off-licences and clubs with trouble scores were no longer statistically significant in the adjusted analysis.

Conclusions The positive associations seen between alcohol outlet density and both individual level binge drinking and alcohol-related problems appear to be independent of individual and neighbourhood SES. Reducing density of alcohol outlets may reduce alcohol-related harm among those who live nearby.

Footnotes

  • Funding New Zealand Lottery Grants Board, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington; Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee 06/171.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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