Publications by authors named "Ashlee Curtis"

38 Publications

Size does matter: An exploration of the relationship between licensed venue capacity and on-premise assaults.

Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2021 06 22;45(6):1298-1303. Epub 2021 Jun 22.

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Vic., Australia.

Aims: Venue capacity has been proposed as a factor associated with increased number of violent incidents on-premises, though no specific research has demonstrated this association, and instead has tended to focus on the relationship between crowding and aggression. The aim of current paper is to investigate the association between venue capacity and the number of violent incidents on-premises.

Methods: Venue capacity data (the maximum capacity listed on the liquor license) were obtained for all venues in central Melbourne from 2010 until 2016. These data were then matched with police-recorded on-premises assaults that occurred within high-alcohol hours (Friday and Saturday 8 pm-6 am) inside the venue.

Results: Analyses were conducted on 5729 venue-years (yearly assault counts per venue, per year) across central Melbourne. Compared with venues that have a maximum capacity of between 0 and 100 patrons, venues with higher capacities have increasingly more recorded assaults. Venues with maximum capacities between 501 and 1000 are 6.1 times more likely to have an assault recorded compared with venues with a maximum capacity between 0 and 100. Further, each additional high-alcohol hour that a venue can be open for is associated with a 72% increase in the number of recorded assaults.

Conclusions: Greater venue capacity was found to be strongly associated with an increased risk of violent incidents for any given venue. This was further exacerbated by late-night trading which substantially adds to the risk of assaults inside the venue.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/acer.14621DOI Listing
June 2021

Summarising the impacts of the Queensland Alcohol-related violence and Night-Time Economy (QUANTEM) project.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2021 Jul 19;40(5):755-760. Epub 2021 May 19.

Centre for Health Services Research, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

This closing commentary to the special section presents an overview of the Queensland Alcohol-related violence and Night-Time Economy Monitoring evaluation findings in comparison to those from other jurisdictions where similar interventions have been implemented (such as Sydney and Newcastle), and especially with previous studies that have used similar evaluation methodologies, such as the Dealing with Alcohol and the Night-Time Economy study. Overall, the articles documented promising reductions in alcohol-related harm, building on the existing evidence base for multi-pronged interventions in entertainment districts. Importantly, this is the first comprehensive investigation to also look at impacts on nightlife-related business and findings demonstrated, that there were improvements for many businesses. There are substantial policy implications for Queensland and other jurisdictions (nationally and globally) wanting to reduce late night alcohol-related harm in entertainment districts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.13272DOI Listing
July 2021

Queensland Alcohol-related violence and Night-time Economy Monitoring (QUANTEM): Rationale and overview.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2021 Jul 18;40(5):693-697. Epub 2021 May 18.

Centre for Health Services Research, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

This commentary introduces the special section on the outcomes of the Queensland Alcohol-related violence and Night-time Economy Monitoring project and outlines the political and policy context of the interventions put in place under the Queensland government's Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence strategy. The development of the strategy was informed by alcohol policy initiatives trialled in other major Australian cities over the past two decades. The articles in this special section examine the impact of the Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence policy stages on alcohol-related harms and local economies across selected entertainment precincts (Safe Night Precincts). A rich array of data were utilised, including administrative health and justice data, data reflective of nightlife trading (i.e. foot traffic data, ID scanner data and live music performances) and street surveys. Findings have implications for research, policy and practice and demonstrate the need for comprehensive evaluations that can accommodate the complexities of modern alcohol policy in Australia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.13270DOI Listing
July 2021

Coercive Controlling Behaviors and Reporting Physical Intimate Partner Violence in Australian Women: An Exploration.

Violence Against Women 2021 Jan 28:1077801220985932. Epub 2021 Jan 28.

Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia.

This study explores two approaches to measuring coercive controlling behaviors (CCBs)-counting how many different CCB types and examining the frequency of each CCB experienced-to examine their utility in explaining the relationship between CCBs and physical intimate partner violence (IPV). Australian women aged 18-68 years ( = 739; = 31.58, = 11.76) completed an online survey. Count and frequency CCB approaches yielded similar significant associations with increased physical IPV. Both approaches suggest that frightening behaviors in particular are significantly indicative of also experiencing physical IPV; however, when you count CCB types, public name-calling becomes important, whereas when you examine the frequency of each CCB type, jealousy/possessiveness becomes important. These findings suggest differential utility between measures of CCBs, which examine the frequency of specific CCB types and which count CCB types, and that both approaches are useful in understanding how coercion and control relate to physical violence within intimate relationships.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1077801220985932DOI Listing
January 2021

The value of identification scanner technology in monitoring and detecting banned patrons in entertainment precincts.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2020 Dec 9. Epub 2020 Dec 9.

Centre for Health Services Research, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Introduction And Aims: Networked identification (ID) scanner technology is a novel approach to collecting licensed venue attendance data, and potentially reducing alcohol-related violence by detecting banned patrons. Using ID scanner data from three Queensland entertainment precincts (Safe Night Precincts; SNPs), we aim to: (i) examine patterns in patron attendance to licensed venues; and (ii) examine patterns in the detection of banned patrons.

Design And Methods: We conducted descriptive analyses of licensed venue patron entries between 1 October 2017 and 30 June 2019. Scans during high alcohol hours (Friday and Saturday, 20:00-06:00) were stratified by patron sex and key age groups. We described scans associated with a detected banning notice issued by venues, courts or police across all Queensland SNPs and three key SNPs.

Results: ID scanner data showed similar attendance trends across SNPs. The peak licensed venue entry hour was 23:00-23:59, with Saturday being the peak day. Approximately two-thirds of scanned patrons were male, and patrons had a mean age of 25.8 years (SD = 8.80). Scanners detected 48 657 attempted entries by banned patrons, with the majority of attempts made by males (85%) aged 18-24 years (61%).

Discussion And Conclusions: This study adds to the limited evidence on the use of ID scanners in the night-time economy and highlights the feasibility of ID scanner use in this setting. Results demonstrate the value of scanners to passively collect data on patrons, identify banned patrons and assist in the enforcement of bans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.13225DOI Listing
December 2020

Characterisation of presentations to a community-based specialist addiction neuropsychology service: Cognitive profiles, diagnoses and comorbidities.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2021 Jan 12;40(1):83-92. Epub 2020 Aug 12.

Turning Point, Eastern Health, Melbourne, Australia.

Introduction And Aims: Cognitive impairment is a common feature of individuals with substance-use disorders. However, research tends to exclude highly complex clinical cases, limiting the generalisability of findings for 'real-world' populations. The objective of this study was to examine the complexities associated with addiction, substance use and cognitive impairment through the characterisation of client presentations to a newly established specialised addiction neuropsychology service.

Design And Methods: Retrospective case file audit. Neuropsychological assessment reports for consenting clients over a 4-year period were de-identified and reviewed. Cognitive domains assessed included attention, processing speed, working memory, intellectual functioning, memory and executive functioning.

Results: Of the 200 case files examined, the majority were male clients, with 11 years or lower of education and a history of daily substance use, with 30% continuing to use daily. Seventy-one percent had a formal mental health diagnosis and 41% had reported a history of trauma. The most prevalent cognitive impairments were observed in complex attention (50%) and memory (40%). New diagnoses were conveyed in 25% of cases, comprising acquired brain injury (16%) and neurodevelopmental disabilities (9%).

Discussion And Conclusions: It is common for clients with substance use histories referred to an addiction neuropsychology service to present with complex histories including psychosocial difficulties, comorbid mental health and medical issues and cognitive impairment. As such, careful diagnostic formulations are required when multiple factors may contribute to cognitive deficits. This study highlights the importance of a state-wide specialist addiction neuropsychology service in supporting diagnostic clarification and informing relevant treatment approaches.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.13135DOI Listing
January 2021

Alcohol-Involved Family and Domestic Violence Reported to Police in Australia.

J Interpers Violence 2020 Jun 17:886260520928633. Epub 2020 Jun 17.

Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia.

Family and domestic violence (FDV) is a significant social issue that causes major harm across Australia. Alcohol has been identified as a contributing factor to FDV, and as such increased understanding of the role of alcohol in police-reported FDV incidents may provide the basis for developing specific clinical and forensic approaches. This study aims to identify the key correlates of alcohol-related FDV within police-reported FDV incidence. Data sourced from several states and territories across Australia were used to profile demographic and personal factors involved in police-reported FDV incidents, and to identify the types of incidents involving alcohol. For each state, three separate binary regressions were conducted for family violence, intimate partner violence, and FDV incidents in which alcohol was involved. Between 24% and 54% of FDV incidents reported to police were classified as alcohol-related. Although there appeared to be an association between relative socioeconomic disadvantage and an incident being alcohol-related, this association varied across states. Where victim and offender data were available, offenders were significantly more likely to be alcohol-affected than victims. Alcohol-related FDV incidents were also twice as likely to involve severe physical violence including injuries that were life threatening, as well as an increased likelihood of recidivism. This study demonstrates that alcohol plays a substantial role in police-reported FDV across Australia. It also demonstrates that other factors such as drug use, breach of orders, and repeat offending are associated with alcohol involvement across family violence and intimate partner violence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0886260520928633DOI Listing
June 2020

Understanding risk-based licensing schemes for alcohol outlets: A key informant perspective.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2020 03 16;39(3):267-277. Epub 2020 Feb 16.

National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

Introduction And Aims: Risk-based alcohol licensing (RBL) has been introduced in several jurisdictions in Australia, New Zealand and Canada with the intention of reducing harm in and around alcohol outlets. RBL involves tailoring licence fees or regulatory agency monitoring levels according to risk criteria such as trading hours, venue size and compliance history. The aim of this study was to document key informant perspectives including their perceptions of the purpose of RBL, how it works and its active ingredients.

Design And Methods: We conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with 28 key informants, including four government policy makers, four liquor licensing representatives, four local council members, eight police officers, six licensees, one academic and one community advocate from Victoria, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and Ontario, Canada. We analysed the transcripts using a thematic approach.

Results: Informants varied in their opinions about whether RBL achieved its objective of reducing alcohol-related harm. They identified difficulties in enforcing the compliance history component of the scheme due to loopholes in legislation as a major shortfall, and the need to apply RBL to packaged liquor (off-licence) outlets. They also discussed the need to consider outlet density associated with the location of a venue when assessing venue risk.

Discussion And Conclusions: RBL schemes vary by jurisdiction and emphasise different components. In general, informants surmised that RBL as implemented has probably had little or no preventive effect but suggested that it may be effective with greater monitoring and penalties large enough to deter bad practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.13043DOI Listing
March 2020

The impact of street service care on frontline service utilisation during high-alcohol use hours in one night-time entertainment precinct in Australia.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2020 01 1;39(1):21-28. Epub 2019 Dec 1.

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Introduction And Aims: Street service care providers in Queensland, Australia are organisations tasked with assisting vulnerable individuals and aiding intoxicated patrons that are at risk of harm in night-time entertainment precincts (NEP). Members of these organisations patrol NEPs and provide services, such as first aid, to individuals in need. There has been no research conducted on their impact on crime, injuries and on the duties of Australian frontline service resources (e.g. police and ambulance services). This study evaluated the introduction of a single street service care in the Cairns NEP on police-recorded assaults, emergency department injury presentations and ambulance service utilisation during high-alcohol hours.

Design And Methods: Police-recorded assaults (common and serious), emergency department injury presentations and ambulance attendances for the Cairns suburbs were examined. Autoregressive integrated moving average time series analyses were used to determine the impact of street service care on monthly counts for each dataset.

Results: Serious assaults during high-alcohol hours significantly declined after the introduction of the support service in Cairns, with a one-month lagged impact (B = -1.66, 95% confidence interval -3.02, -0.30). No other significant impact on common assaults, emergency department injury presentations or ambulance attendances were found.

Discussion And Conclusions: This study provides preliminary evidence that street service care may help to decrease assaults within a single NEP. However, further research investigating the impact of street services in larger cities, and determining what other roles the service may be able to play in preventing alcohol-related harm, is needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.13009DOI Listing
January 2020

Aggression and violence at ambulance attendances where alcohol, illicit and/or pharmaceutical drugs were recorded: A 5-year study of ambulance records in Victoria, Australia.

Drug Alcohol Depend 2019 12 28;205:107685. Epub 2019 Oct 28.

Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University, Box Hill, Victoria, Australia; Turning Point, Eastern Health, Richmond, Victoria, Australia. Electronic address:

Background: This study describes the frequency and characteristics of aggression and/or violence in ambulance attendances involving alcohol, illicit and/or pharmaceutical drug use in Victoria, Australia between January 2012 and January 2017.

Methods: Patient characteristics, context, and substance use involvement in ambulance attendances were examined to determine associations with attendances where aggression and/or violence was recorded.

Results: There were 205,178 ambulance attendances where use of alcohol, pharmaceutical drugs or illicit substances contributed to the reason for the attendance. Paramedics recorded acts of aggression and/or violence in 11,813 (5.76 %) of these attendances. Aggression/violence was more likely to be recorded in certain contexts. Compared with attendances where aggression/violence was not recorded, attendances where aggression/violence was recorded were significantly more likely to involve younger and male patients, and occur on Friday and Saturday nights. Alcohol intoxication was involved in more than half of attendances where aggression/violence was recorded, and was almost twice as prevalent as those involving illicit drug use where aggression/violence was recorded. This pattern was consistent across all hours, high-alcohol hours only, by metropolitan/regional location, and by police co-attendance.

Conclusions: Aggression and violence are frequently recorded in ambulance attendances involving alcohol, pharmaceutical drugs or illicit substances, and, most often involve alcohol. This violence poses a recurring threat to the health and safety of paramedics, bystanders, and patients. Greater priority should be given to reducing alcohol-related violence through evidence-based policy measures targeting high-risk groups (e.g. young adult males) and contexts (e.g. weekends, late at night) where harm is most likely to occur.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.107685DOI Listing
December 2019

Situational Characteristics Uniquely Associated With Children's Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence.

J Interpers Violence 2019 Oct 11:886260519881006. Epub 2019 Oct 11.

Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia.

Exposure to parental violence can have devastating consequences for children, including significant personal, social, and academic problems. The present study determined the situational factors that are associated with children's exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) incidents. To examine whether these factors were unique to child witnesses' presence at IPV incidents, we also determined the factors that are associated with children's exposure to family violence (FV) and other family member witnesses' exposure to IPV incidents. Participants responded to an online panel survey investigating the role of alcohol and other drugs in family and domestic violence incidents in Australia. Nine hundred fifty-two respondents reported an IPV incident and 299 reported an FV incident; they provided details about their most recent incident. Results showed that child witnesses were more likely to be present during IPV incidents if the incident took place at home (odds ratio [OR] = 3.10), if a similar incident had occurred previously (OR = 1.66), if drugs were involved (OR = 1.60), and if a police report was made (OR = 2.61). There was some overlap with the other witness and violence combinations: The presence of a police report also predicted child witnesses' presence at FV incidents, and a home location also predicted other family member witnesses' presence at IPV incidents. These results enhance our understanding of the situations in which children might witness IPV incidents; future research is needed to determine whether these situational factors can be used to judge risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0886260519881006DOI Listing
October 2019

Reciprocal associations between early adolescent antisocial behavior and depressive symptoms: A longitudinal study in Victoria, Australia and Washington State, United States.

J Crim Justice 2019 May-Jun;62:74-86. Epub 2018 Sep 12.

Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development, School of Psychology, Deakin University; Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Australia.

Purpose: Reciprocal prospective associations between adolescent antisocial behavior and depressive symptoms were examined.

Methods: Seventh grade students (average age 13 years; N=2,314/2,348) were surveyed (T1), and then followed-up 12 (T2) and 24 months (T3) later, using the same methods in Washington State and Victoria, Australia.

Results: Negative binomial regressions showed antisocial behavior (T1, T2) did not prospectively predict depressive symptoms (T2, T3). T1 multivariate predictors for T2 depressive symptoms included female gender (incident rate ratio [IRR] = 1.70), prior depressive symptoms (IRR = 1.06), alcohol use (IRR = 1.13), family conflict (IRR = 1.13), antisocial peers (IRR = 1.08) and bullying victimization (IRR = 1.06). Depressive symptoms (T1, T2) did not predict antisocial behavior (T2, T3). T1 multivariate predictors for T2 antisocial behavior included female gender (IRR = .96), age (IRR = .97), prior antisocial behavior (IRR = 1.32), alcohol use (IRR = 1.04), antisocial peers (IRR = 1.11) and academic failure (IRR = 1.03).

Conclusions: Depressive symptoms and antisocial behaviors showed considerable predictive stability in early adolescence but were not reciprocally related. Prevention and intervention strategies in adolescence may benefit by targeting common predictors such as alcohol, peer interactions and early symptoms for depression and antisocial behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2018.09.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6675470PMC
September 2018

The Impact of Twenty Four-Hour Public Transport in Melbourne, Australia: An Evaluation of Alcohol-Related Harms.

J Stud Alcohol Drugs 2019 05;80(3):314-318

School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Geelong Waterfront Campus, Geelong, Victoria, Australia.

Objective: Transporting people out of nightlife districts is often cited as a major issue associated with alcohol-related harm. The Victorian Government introduced 24-hour public transport (24hr PT) in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday and Saturday nights in January 2016. After the 1-year trial period, funding was extended for a further 4 years, at a cost of more than AU$300 million to date. The current study aimed to determine whether 24hr PT reduced harms associated with the nightlife of Melbourne and whether there has been an increased number of people using the transport and visiting Melbourne city on Friday and Saturday nights.

Method: Police assault data, ambulance attendance data, crash data, public transport use data, and pedestrian counting data were analyzed to determine the impact of 24hr PT on harms in the nightlife of Melbourne, as well as changes in the number of people using public transport and attending the city.

Results: There was no change from 2015 to 2016 in the number of police-recorded assaults, ambulance attendances, or crashes for the entirety of the night. There were significantly more people out in the city later in the evening, and more people using trains and trams during the 24hr PT time (i.e., 1 A.M.-5 A.M.).

Conclusions: The initiative did not decrease harm in Melbourne nightlife, in contrast to industry, government, and expert predictions. With expenditures of more than AU$300 million, the costs and benefits of this initiative require further consideration and research, especially when it is proposed in opposition to evidence-based solutions, such as closing venues earlier.
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May 2019

Risk-based licensing of alcohol venues and emergency department injury presentations in two Australian states.

Int J Drug Policy 2019 08 22;70:99-106. Epub 2019 Jun 22.

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Background: Risk-based licensing (RBL) is among the more recent policy interventions to reduce alcohol-related harm in and around licensed venues. RBL sets licence fees to reflect the venue's propensity to cause harm as a means of encouraging operators to improve their practices. We assessed whether the introduction of RBL in the Australian states of Queensland and Victoria was associated with a reduction in the incidence of emergency department (ED) injury presentations.

Methods: We employed an interrupted time series design using Prais-Winsten and Cochrane-Orcutt regression modelling to estimate step and slope parameters in injury incidence rates in each state. We defined the population as residents of the state, aged 15-54 years, the age group we considered most likely to be exposed to the night-time economy. To reduce noise, we confined cases to presentations during times previously identified as correlated with a high probability of alcohol involvement, namely 'high alcohol hours' (HAH). We adjusted our models for the alcopops tax, implemented shortly before RBL, and for assaults during low alcohol hours (LAH) as a proxy for other risk factors for assault.

Results: RBL was not associated with an overall reduction in the incidence of ED injury presentations during HAH in Queensland (β = 0.003; 95% CI: -0.010, 0.003, p = 0.318) or Victoria (β=-0.010; 95% CI: -0.021, 0.001, p = 0.087). Post-hoc subgroup analyses showed a reduction in ED injury presentations among men aged 20-39 years in Victoria (β=-0.026; 95% CI:-0.012, -0.040, p-0.0003) but this was not replicated in Queensland.

Conclusion: There was little evidence that RBL affected the incidence of ED presentations for injury. This may be due to weak financial penalties being applied to venues assessed as high-risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.06.014DOI Listing
August 2019

The Role of Illicit Drug Use in Family and Domestic Violence in Australia.

J Interpers Violence 2021 Aug 11;36(15-16):NP8247-NP8267. Epub 2019 Apr 11.

Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia.

Drug use has been shown to interact in complex ways with the occurrence and prevalence of family and domestic violence (FDV), with illicit drug use being associated with an increased risk for FDV. The current study aims to extend upon the literature by investigating the role of illicit drugs in intimate partner violence (IPV), family violence (FV), and other violence (violence between people other than partners or family) within a representative Australian sample ( = 5,118). Participants were recruited through an online survey panel and completed an online self-report survey assessing the role of alcohol and other drugs on violence, with a specific focus on FDV. Binary logistic regression showed that respondents who reported having used any illicit drug in the past 12 months (with or without alcohol use) had over three times the odds of experiencing any violence in the past 12 months (OR = 3.18, 95% confidence interval (CI) = [2.25, 4.48]) compared with those not using illicit drugs. Furthermore, drug involvement in FDV (IPV or FV) was significantly more likely than other violent incident types (OR = 1.65, 95% CI = [1.25, 2.19]). For the most recent FDV incident, age group was the only significant demographic predictor of drug involvement at this incident; younger age groups were over twice as likely to report drug involvement than those over 65 years of age. Drug involvement at the most recent FDV incident was also associated with over twice the odds of injury (OR = 2.38, 95% CI = [1.67, 3.38]) and significantly greater negative life impact. The findings that drug use increases both the risk for and impact of FDV indicate the need for policy that advocates for interventions addressing both drug use and violence in combination.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0886260519843288DOI Listing
August 2021

Alcohol use in family, domestic and other violence: Findings from a cross-sectional survey of the Australian population.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2019 05 3;38(4):349-358. Epub 2019 Apr 3.

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Introduction And Aims: The link between alcohol and experience of violence is well-documented, but there is a paucity of empirical research on the role of alcohol specifically in family and domestic violence (FDV) in Australia. The aim of the current study was to describe the relationship between alcohol use and FDV in the Australian population, and to examine key differences between three different types of violence: family violence, intimate partner violence (IPV) and other violence.

Design And Methods: An online panel survey was conducted using a stratified random sampling design.

Results: In total, 5118 respondents were included, of whom 44.5% reported experiencing violence in their lifetime, and 6.0% reported recent (past year) experience of violence. Recent violent incidents were comprised of IPV (41.8%), family violence (13.1%) and other violence (45.1%). Approximately one-third of all violent incidents experienced (either as a victim or perpetrator) were alcohol-related, and 37.8% of respondents who experienced IPV and 27.8% of those who experienced family violence reported past year heavy-episodic drinking. Alcohol use was associated with higher rates of physical violence and injury at IPV incidents. Alcohol consumed at IPV incidents was most often purchased from a supermarket liquor store (37.0%) and consumed at the respondent's home, regardless of the distance between the purchase location and incident location.

Discussions And Conclusions: This study found that alcohol is frequently involved in FDV incidents, particularly IPV. Alcohol use was associated with a higher chance of physical violence and of injury at IPV incidents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.12925DOI Listing
May 2019

Investigating and validating methods of monitoring foot-traffic in night-time entertainment precincts in Australia.

Int J Drug Policy 2019 04 24;66:23-29. Epub 2019 Jan 24.

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong Waterfront Campus, Vic, 3220, Australia.

Background: Assaults occur frequently in night-time entertainment precincts (NEPs), with rates typically reported using estimated resident population. However, this form of reporting does not accurately represent the number of people within the NEP at the time of an assault or potential fluctuations in density throughout the course of the night. As such, the aim of this study was to assess multiple methods of obtaining an accurate estimate of hourly foot-traffic within NEPs.

Methods: The validity and reliability of three types of foot traffic counters were assessed. A passive-infrared sensor and two different types of smartphone sensor were installed at two sites in Australia from 2016 to 2018, ongoing (pilot phase: 2016-2017; validation phase: 2018). Researchers also manually counted the number of people walking past through the range of two of these sensors across the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights between 8 pm to 2am.

Results: Results show a similar trend between the smartphone counts, the sensor counts, and the manual counts; however there was notable variability (43%-267% compared with manual counts). Analysis showed that all measures were significantly positively correlated.

Conclusion: Reliable counting of the number of people attending nightlife precincts is an important element of ongoing studies into nightlife settings and associated rates of harm. There are multiple methods of estimating fluctuations in foot traffic within a NEP, however, determining the most appropriate method to use requires consideration of the proximity of pathways in the area, budget constraints, and project aims. Of the methods tested, laptop WiFi traffic monitoring programs functioned the least consistently. Specifically designed smartphone sensors overcame this issue; however, they required dedicated power sources. The current study found infrared scanners appeared to be the most accurate across sites; additionally they functioned consistently, and were the simplest method to setup and maintain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.01.009DOI Listing
April 2019

Off the rails-Evaluating the nightlife impact of Melbourne, Australia's 24-h public transport trial.

Int J Drug Policy 2019 01 23;63:39-46. Epub 2018 Nov 23.

School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University Geelong, Waterfront Campus, Locked Bag 20001, Geelong, VIC, 3220, Australia.

Background: This paper evaluates the impact of the AU$83 million introduction of 24-h public transport (PT) in Melbourne, Australia on Friday and Saturday nights on a sample of nightlife venues and venue patrons. This sample was selected because a primary reason for the introduction of 24 h PT was to provide a safe means of travel home for nightlife attendees.

Methods: Covert venue observations (pre-post) and a convenience sample of nightlife patron interviews (post-only) were conducted to measure the impact of 24-h PT on venues and venue patrons. Specifically, the impact of 24-h PT on the proportion of people observed within venues (as rated on a 0-100% scale of venue capacity), patrons in venues showing any sign of intoxication, those who were observed to be too intoxicated to remain in the venue, patron drinking or drug taking behavior, train use, and the time and money spent in the night time economy were assessed.

Results: After 24-h PT was introduced there were no significant differences overall in the proportion of people observed within venues, or significant associations with the proportion of patrons showing any sign of intoxication or proportions who were observed to be too intoxicated to remain in the venue. However, when accounting for seasonality (matching-months), observed patron intoxication increased significantly after the introduction of 24-h PT. The majority of nightlife patrons did not report a change in their pre-drinking or drug taking behavior after 24-public transport, but 44% indicated spending more time in the night time economy, 27% reported spending more money, and 56% reported increasing their train use.

Conclusion: Patron reports suggest that 24-h public transport has increased the amount of time people spend in nightlife settings without obviously impacting on drinking behavior. However, supplying 24-h public transport has resulted in greater self-reported use of public transport.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2018.10.006DOI Listing
January 2019

Short-term changes in nightlife attendance and patron intoxication following alcohol restrictions in Queensland, Australia.

BMC Public Health 2018 Nov 12;18(1):1185. Epub 2018 Nov 12.

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Background: This study aims to explore short-term changes following the introduction of alcohol restrictions (most notably 2 am to 3 am last drinks). We examined patterns of nightlife attendance, intoxication, and alcohol use among patrons shortly before and after restrictions were introduced in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane: the largest night-time entertainment precinct of Queensland.

Methods: Street-intercept patron interviews were conducted in Fortitude Valley in June (n = 497) and July (n = 562) 2016. A pre-post design was used to assess changes in time spent out drinking/partying prior to the interview, time of arrival in the precinct, pre-drinking, and blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Results: Regression models indicated that after the policy introduction, the proportion of people arriving at Fortitude Valley before 10:00 pm increased (OR = 1.38; 95% CI = 1.04, 1.82). Participants reported going out, on average, one hour earlier after the intervention (β = - 0.17; 95% CI = 0.11, 0.22). There was a decrease (RRR = 0.58; 95% CI = 0.43, 0.79) in the proportion of participants who had a high level of intoxication (BAC ≥0.10 g/dL) post-intervention. No other significant differences were found.

Conclusions: Earlier cessation of alcohol sales and stopping the sale of rapid intoxication drinks after midnight was associated with people arriving in Fortitude Valley earlier. Though legislative loopholes allowed some venues to continue trading to 5 am, the proportion of people in the precinct who were highly intoxicated decreased after the restriction. Further measurement will be required to determine whether the reduction has persisted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-6098-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231257PMC
November 2018

Swift, certain and fair justice: Insights from behavioural learning and neurocognitive research.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2018 04;37 Suppl 1:S240-S245

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Increasingly, persons entering the criminal justice system are reporting substance-related concerns. It is therefore essential that interventions appropriately target the needs of substance-using offenders to ensure the rate of reoffending can be reduced. In this context, there is now a substantial literature demonstrating specific neurocognitive deficits among substance-using and offender populations, including, but not limited to, problems with executive function, rational decision making, consequential thinking and prospective memory. Such research is providing important insights into why current intervention approaches may not be as effective for substance-using offenders, and why emerging programs, such as 'swift, certain and fair' justice programs, which focus on guaranteed, immediate but proportionate sanctions, might be more successful in reducing both substance use and offending behaviour. In this paper, we argue that the potential success of this intervention can be understood from a behavioural learning and neurocognitive perspective, and may point the way forward for other approaches that seek to change behaviour.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.12628DOI Listing
April 2018

Comparing levels of blood alcohol concentration and indicators of impairment in nightlife patrons.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2018 04 7;37 Suppl 1:S348-S356. Epub 2017 Dec 7.

National Drug Research Institute, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

Introduction And Aims: Breathalyser estimate of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is widely used as an objective intoxication measure, but is not always practical in nightlife contexts. This study uses in situ data collected in nightlife environments to explore how four measures of intoxication are related so as to inform the development of a more practical and reliable method of differentiating intoxication for people working in the night-time economy.

Design And Methods: Nightlife patron interviews were conducted in five Australian cities. Participants completed demographic questions and were asked about current session (past 12 h) alcohol use, and four different measures of intoxication were assessed: BAC, participant's self-reported intoxication (0-10), interviewer rating of the participant's intoxication (0-10) and interviewer-rated number of the participants' of physical signs of intoxication.

Results: A total of 7028 patrons were surveyed and n = 5273 included in analysis. Mean age was 23.9 years (SD = 6.36); 61.5% were male. There was a significant difference in occurrence of all observable intoxication symptoms across differing levels of BAC (P < 0.001). All visible symptoms became more common as intoxication increased, except for talking very quickly/talkative and giggly symptoms. As BAC levels increase, the extent of the disagreement between self-rated and interviewer-rated intoxication measures widens. Exhibiting four or more visible intoxication symptoms emerged as a reliable method for observers to identify intoxicated patrons.

Discussion And Conclusions: As BAC increases, people become worse at estimating their own intoxication, but sober observers remain relatively accurate. Findings provide support for efforts to strengthen and enforce responsible service of alcohol.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.12639DOI Listing
April 2018

Queensland Alcohol-related violence and Night Time Economy Monitoring project (QUANTEM): a study protocol.

BMC Public Health 2017 10 5;17(1):789. Epub 2017 Oct 5.

Queensland Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre, School of Public Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

Background: Alcohol-related harm is a substantial burden on the community in Australia and internationally, particularly harm related to risky drinking practices of young people in the night-time economy. This protocol paper describes a study that will report on the changes in a wide range of health and justice outcome measures associated with major policy changes in the state of Queensland, Australia. A key element includes trading hours restrictions for licensed premises to 2 am for the state and 3 am in Safe Night Precincts (SNPs). Other measures introduced include drinks restrictions after midnight, increased patron banning measures for repeat offenders, mandatory ID scanning of patrons in late-night venues, and education campaigns.

Methods: The primary aim of the study is to evaluate change in the levels of harm due to these policy changes using administrative data (e.g., police, hospital, ambulance, and court data). Other study elements will investigate the impact of the Policy by measuring foot traffic volume in SNPs, using ID scanner data to quantify the volume of people entering venues and measure the effectiveness of banning notices, using patron interviews to quantify the levels of pre-drinking, intoxication and illicit drug use within night-time economy districts, and to explore the impacts of the Policy on business and live music, and costs to the community.

Discussion: The information gathered through this project aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the Policy and to draw on these findings to inform future prevention and enforcement approaches by policy makers, police, and venue staff.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4811-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5629755PMC
October 2017

Playing it safe: Patron safety strategies and experience of violence in night-time entertainment districts.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2018 03 30;37(3):340-347. Epub 2017 May 30.

School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Introduction And Aims: Incidences of violence are elevated in night-time entertainment districts. Research suggests that safety-related behavioural strategies adopted while drinking can reduce negative alcohol-related outcomes. The current study investigates the use of safety strategies and its association with experiences of violence among patrons from the general population.

Design And Methods: Patron interviews (N = 3949) were conducted in and around licenced venues in Newcastle (New South Wales) and Geelong (Victoria) during peak trading hours (Friday and Saturday, 21:00-01:00 h). Participants (mean age = 24.3, SD = 5.8; male 54.4%) were asked to report what measures, if any, they used to keep safe when drinking and whether they had been involved in a violent incident in the last 12 months.

Results: After controlling for patron demographics and location, the use of multiple (more than one) safety strategies was significantly associated with reduced odds of involvement in a violent incident (odds ratio = 0.64, 95% confidence interval 0.49-0.85, P = 0.002). Significant gender differences were observed in the number and type of safety strategies reported.

Discussion And Conclusions: Increasing the number of safety-related behaviours during drinking occasions is associated with a small but significant reduction in experiencing alcohol-related harms, such as violence. [Zhou J, Droste N, Curtis A, Zinkiewicz L, Miller P. Playing it safe: Patron safety strategies and experience of violence in night-time entertainment districts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.12570DOI Listing
March 2018

Correlates of verbal and physical aggression among patrons of licensed venues in Australia.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2018 01 25;37(1):6-13. Epub 2017 Apr 25.

School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Introduction And Aims: The current study aimed to examine the association between patron demographics and substance use, and experiences of verbal and physical aggressive incidents within the last 3 months among patrons of night-time entertainment precincts (NEP) in Australia.

Design And Methods: Patron interviews (n = 4216) were conducted around licensed venues in the NEPs of five Australian cities. Seven correlates of verbal and physical aggressive incidents were examined: gender, age, occupation, blood alcohol concentration, pre-drinking, energy drink use and illicit drug use in the current session.

Results: A total of 7.5% and 8.2% of respondents reported involvement in a verbally and physically aggressive incident in the past 3 months, respectively. Multivariate logistic regression models indicated men and people <25 years old were significantly more likely to report both verbal and physical aggressive incidents. A significant occupation effect showed lower levels of both verbal and physical aggression in managers/professionals compared with non-office workers. The likelihood of being involved in a verbally aggressive incident significantly increased with energy drink consumption, while the likelihood of being involved in a physically aggressive incident significantly increased with blood alcohol concentration, energy drink consumption and illicit drug use.

Discussion And Conclusions: This study highlights the different correlates of verbal and physical aggression within NEPs, suggesting they should be viewed as distinct types of violence, rather than points on a continuum. Major modifiable correlates with verbal and physical aggression included intoxication, energy drink consumption, and illicit drug use, suggesting the need for further interventions and policy development to address these key issues. [Hyder S, Coomber K, Pennay A, Droste N, Curtis A, Mayshak R, Lam T, Gilmore W, Chikritzhs T, Miller PG. Correlates of verbal and physical aggression among patrons of licensed venues in Australia. Drug Alcohol Rev 2018;37:6-13].
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.12552DOI Listing
January 2018

Effectiveness of community-based interventions for reducing alcohol-related harm in two metropolitan and two regional sites in Victoria, Australia.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2017 05 20;36(3):359-368. Epub 2017 Apr 20.

School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Introduction And Aims: The relationship between alcohol intoxication and harm is well known, and many community-based interventions have been introduced in an attempt to reduce the rates of alcohol-related harm. The current paper uses two metropolitan and two regional Australian cities as sites to investigate the impact of community-based interventions on the reduction of alcohol-related harms.

Design And Methods: Data for injury-related emergency department (ED) presentations and police attended assaults during high-alcohol hours (i.e. 20:00-06:00 h, Friday and Saturday nights) were obtained for each site from 2000 to 2015 for ED presentations and from 2000 to 2016 for police assaults. Autoregressive integrated moving average time series analyses were conducted to determine the impact of the community-based interventions introduced at each site for reducing these rates of ED injury presentations and police attended assaults.

Results: None of the community-level interventions that were introduced across the four sites resulted in a reduction in ED presentation rates or assault rates.

Discussion And Conclusions: The majority of interventions introduced across the four sites were proposed and implemented by local liquor accords. Given none of the interventions demonstrated a reduction in ED injury presentation rates or police attended assault rates, it is argued that local liquor accords may not be best placed to propose alcohol-related harm reduction measures, and instead, there should be a focus on the implementation of evidence-based regulatory strategies, such as restricted trading hours. [Curtis A, Coomber K, Droste N, Hyder S, Palmer D, Miller PG. Effectiveness of community-based interventions for reducing alcohol-related harm in two metropolitan and two regional sites in Victoria, Australia. Drug Alcohol Rev 2017;36:359-368].
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.12501DOI Listing
May 2017

Funder interference in addiction research: An international survey of authors.

Addict Behav 2017 09 31;72:100-105. Epub 2017 Mar 31.

School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia.

Objective: Scientific research is essential to the development of effective addiction treatment and drug policy. Actions that compromise the integrity of addiction science need to be understood. The aim of this study is to investigate funder (e.g. industry, government or charity) interference in addiction science internationally.

Method: Corresponding authors of all 941 papers published in an international specialist journal July 2004 to June 2009 were invited to complete a web questionnaire. A sensitivity analysis with extreme assumptions about non-respondents was undertaken.

Results: The questionnaire was completed by 322 authors (response fraction 34%), 36% (n=117) of whom had encountered at least one episode (median=3, Interquartile range=4) of funder interference in their research: 56% in Australasia, 33% in Europe, and 30% in North America. Censorship of research outputs was the most common form of interference. The wording or writing of reports and articles, as well as where, when and how findings were released were the areas in which influence was most often reported.

Conclusions: Funder interference in addiction science appears to be common internationally. Strategies to increase transparency in the addiction science literature, including mandatory author declarations concerning the role of the funder, are necessary.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.03.026DOI Listing
September 2017

Awareness and correlates of short-term and long-term consequences of alcohol use among Australian drinkers.

Aust N Z J Public Health 2017 Jun 22;41(3):237-242. Epub 2017 Jan 22.

School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Victoria.

Objective: To investigate awareness of short-term and long-term consequences of alcohol use among a sample of Australian adult drinkers. Demographic correlates of the awareness of each consequence were also explored.

Methods: Participants aged 18-45 years (n=1,061; mean age=33.2 years) drawn from an online panel completed a web-based survey assessing demographics, awareness of alcohol warning labels, and awareness of seven short-term and 12 long-term consequences of alcohol use.

Results: The level of awareness of short- and long-term consequences ranged from 16% (breast cancer) to 69% (low coordination and slower reflexes). The study found consistent differences in awareness of consequences by gender, with some differences for specific consequences by age, education, SES, rurality and awareness of alcohol warning labels.

Conclusions: Most consumers lack a sufficient understanding of the potential consequences of alcohol use. Particular subgroups of drinkers may not equate drinking with negative consequences. Implications for public health: Front-of-label alcohol warnings on all products and public health and education campaigns presenting messages targeting subgroups of drinkers could increase awareness of short- and long-term negative health and social effects of alcohol use.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12634DOI Listing
June 2017

Demographic and Substance Use Factors Associated with Non-Violent Alcohol-Related Injuries among Patrons of Australian Night-Time Entertainment Districts.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2017 01 12;14(1). Epub 2017 Jan 12.

School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Geelong VIC 3220, Australia.

This study examined the relationship between patron demographics, substance use, and experience of recent alcohol-related accidents and injuries that were not due to interpersonal violence in night-time entertainment districts. Cross-sectional interviews ( = 4016) were conducted around licensed venues in entertainment districts of five Australian cities. Demographic factors associated with non-violent alcohol-related injuries were examined, including gender, age, and occupation. The association between substance use on the night of interview; blood alcohol concentration (BAC), pre-drinking, energy drink consumption, and illicit drug use; and experience of injury was also explored. Thirteen percent of participants reported an alcohol-related injury within the past three months. Respondents aged younger than 25 years were significantly more likely to report an alcohol-related injury. Further, a significant occupation effect was found indicating the rate of alcohol-related injury was lower in managers/professionals compared to non-office workers. The likelihood of prior alcohol-related injury significantly increased with BAC, and self-reported pre-drinking, energy drink, or illicit drug consumption on the night of interview. These findings provide an indication of the demographic and substance use-related associations with alcohol-related injuries and, therefore, potential avenues of population-level policy intervention. Policy responses to alcohol-related harm must also account for an assessment and costing of non-violent injuries.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14010075DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5295326PMC
January 2017

Prevalence and correlates of drink driving within patrons of Australian night-time entertainment precincts.

Accid Anal Prev 2016 Oct 22;95(Pt A):187-91. Epub 2016 Jul 22.

School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University Waterfront Campus, Australia.

Background: Drink driving is a significant public health concern, and contributes to many road fatalities worldwide. The current study is the first to examine the prevalence and correlates of drink driving behavior in a sample of night-time entertainment precinct attendees in Australia.

Methods: Interviews were conducted with 4214 night-time entertainment precinct attendees in two metropolitan and three regional cities in Australia. Seven correlates of self-reported drink driving were examined: gender, age, occupation, blood alcohol concentration (BAC), alcohol consumed prior to attending a licensed venue, energy drink consumption, and other drug consumption.

Results: Fourteen percent of night-time entertainment precinct attendees reported drink driving in the past three months. Bivariate logistic regression models indicated that males were significantly more likely than females to report drink driving in the past three months. Blue-collar workers and sales/clerical/administrative workers were significantly more likely to report drink driving behavior in the past three months than white-collar workers. The likelihood of reporting drink driving during the three months prior to interview significantly increased as BAC on the current night out increased, and when patrons reported engaging in pre-drinking or other drug use. The multivariate model presented a similar pattern of results, however BAC and pre-drinking on the night of the interview were no longer independent significant predictors.

Conclusions: Males, blue collar/sales/clerical/administrative workers, and illicit drug consumers were more likely to report engaging in drink driving behavior than their counterparts. Interventions should focus on addressing the considerable proportion night-time entertainment precinct attendees who report engaging in drink driving behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2016.07.018DOI Listing
October 2016

Patron Banning in the Nightlife Entertainment Districts: A Key Informant Perspective.

J Stud Alcohol Drugs 2016 07;77(4):606-11

School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University, Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus, Victoria, Australia.

Objective: Alcohol-related harm in and around licensed venues is associated with substantial costs. Many interventions have been introduced in an effort to combat these harms, and one such intervention is known as patron banning. Patron banning involves prohibiting patrons who have been violent or disorderly in a licensed venue in an attempt to reduce alcohol-related harm. It can be implemented by the venue, by members of police, or by liquor accords. This study aimed to obtain key informant perspectives on the benefits of patron banning as well as on the effectiveness of patron banning in reducing alcohol-related harm.

Method: Thirty-six key informants provided perspectives on patron banning through in-depth interviews that were part of a larger study.

Results: Key informants were supportive of patron banning for reducing alcohol-related harm, noting that it had many benefits including increased venue safety, general risk management, and deterrence of antisocial behavior. Although processes for banning were not always consistent, identification scanners were generally recognized as a way to ensure that patron banning was enforced.

Conclusions: Key informants viewed patron banning as an effective measure for increasing patron safety and reducing alcohol-related harms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.15288/jsad.2016.77.606DOI Listing
July 2016
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