Publications by authors named "Kerri Coomber"

66 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

The impact of late-night alcohol restrictions on ambulance call-outs in entertainment precincts.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2021 Jul 20;40(5):708-716. Epub 2021 May 20.

Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Introduction: In July 2016, the Queensland Government introduced the Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence (TAFV) policy to address alcohol-related harm in entertainment precincts [safe night precincts (SNP)]. Additional measures were introduced in February and July 2017. We aim to examine the impact of the policy on Queensland Ambulance Service call-outs in Fortitude Valley, Surfers Paradise, all 15 SNP suburbs combined and statewide.

Methods: Auto-regressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) models and seasonal ARIMA (SARIMA) models were developed to test the impact of TAFV policy stages on monthly number of ambulance call-outs during high alcohol hours (HAH; Friday and Saturday nights, 20:00-05:59) over an 8-year period (July 2011-June 2019).

Results: The average number of monthly call-outs in HAH reduced by 26.2% in Fortitude Valley, 21.1% in Surfers Paradise and 4.3% in all 15 SNP suburbs combined. In Fortitude Valley, there was a significant decline in the monthly number of call-outs between 00:00 and 02:59 and across all HAH combined when examining the cumulative effect of the policy stages; and significant declines between 03:00 and 05:59 after each stage and cumulatively. Across the 15 SNP suburbs combined, there was a significant decline in call-outs between 03:00 and 05:59 after the third policy stage (July 2017). There were no significant declines in Surfers Paradise or statewide.

Discussion And Conclusions: Overall, the introduction of the TAFV policy stages in Queensland had a limited effect on ambulance call-outs during HAH. However, there were some notable declines in HAH ambulance call-outs in some of the state's key nightlife suburbs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.13308DOI Listing
July 2021

The impact of changes to alcohol policy on patron drinking behaviours in Queensland.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2021 Jul 20;40(5):728-737. Epub 2021 May 20.

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Introduction: On 1 July 2016, stage 1 of the Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence (TAFV) policy was introduced in Queensland, Australia and included restricted alcohol service to 03:00 in dedicated entertainment precincts (safe night precincts or SNPs). During stage 2 (from 1 February 2017), the number of extended trading permits (i.e. trading until 05:00) per venue were reduced; and during stage 3 (from 1 July 2017), networked identification scanners were mandated for late-night venues. We aim to examine whether patron drinking behaviours in two key SNPs changed significantly following stages 2 and 3.

Methods: The study design was repeated cross-sectional, with three data collection (policy) stages. Patrons street surveys were conducted in Fortitude Valley (n = 2066) and Cairns (n = 1021) SNPs between July 2016 and November 2018. Linear or negative binomial regressions were conducted to examine changes in three key outcomes: blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading, proportion of pre-drinkers and number of pre-drinks.

Results: We found no significant difference in BAC reading, proportion of pre-drinkers or number of pre-drinks at stages 2 and 3 of the policy compared to baseline in Fortitude Valley. In Cairns, we found significant reductions in patron BAC at stage 3 of the policy, and female BAC at stages 2 and 3 compared to baseline; while the proportion of females pre-drinking significantly reduced by half in stage 2.

Discussion And Conclusions: Despite evidence of some reductions in alcohol consumption, high levels of intoxication remain, suggesting harm reduction may be more difficult to achieve in these drinkers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.13299DOI Listing
July 2021

The impact of liquor legislation changes on police-recorded serious assault in Queensland, Australia.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2021 Jul 20;40(5):717-727. Epub 2021 May 20.

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Introduction And Aims: In July 2016, the Queensland government introduced the Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence policy, with some amendments over the subsequent 12 months. Key measures included restricting alcohol sales to 3 am in safe night precincts (SNPs), limiting the annual number of extended trading permits (i.e. trading until 5 am) and introducing mandatory networked identification scanners. We examined the policy impact on the number of serious assaults across all combined SNPs and in five major SNPs: Fortitude Valley, Cairns, Surfers Paradise, Toowoomba and Townsville.

Design And Methods: Using police data (July 2009-June 2019), we examined the impact of the policy on serious assaults during high-alcohol hours (high-alcohol hours; 8 pm-6 am, Friday and Saturday), employing time series methods.

Results: Across all SNPs there was no significant change in the number of serious assaults during overall high-alcohol hours, but a significant 49% decrease in the monthly number of serious assaults between 3 am and 6 am on Friday/Saturday. A significant decrease in the monthly count of serious assaults during high-alcohol hours and specifically 3 am-6 am on Friday/Saturday was evident in Fortitude Valley SNP (52%), and during high-alcohol hours in Toowoomba SNP (43%).

Discussion And Conclusions: Although results were mixed, there was evidence of some promising reductions in alcohol-related violence in SNPs. It is likely that factors such as extended trading permits (venues not closing at 3 am), continued drinking in some venues and 24-h trading in casinos have reduced the potential impacts seen elsewhere.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.13181DOI Listing
July 2021

The impact of Queensland's Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence Policy on nightlife and business trade.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2021 Jul 20;40(5):746-754. Epub 2021 May 20.

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Introduction: Key elements of the Queensland Government's Tackling Alcohol Fuelled Violence (TAFV) policy included the introduction of mandatory identification (ID) scanners and reduced trading hours for licensed venues located within Safe Night Precincts (SNP). These measures raised concerns among licensed venue owners and other key stakeholders regarding the potential negative impact of the policy on business trade and nightlife. Using multiple data sources, this paper examines the impact of the TAFV policy on nightlife and trade in three Queensland SNPs: Fortitude Valley, Surfers Paradise and Cairns.

Methods: Data from ID scanners (2017-2019), foot traffic counters (2017-2019) and counts of liquor licences issued (2015-2019) were used to measure the policy's impact on the number of patrons and licensed venues within SNPs. Joinpoint regression and auto-regressive integrated moving average models were developed to examine changes in these measures over time.

Results: No significant changes were observed in the number of ID scans over time, although Surfers Paradise showed a 0.13% reduction during high alcohol hours. Foot traffic counts from Fortitude Valley showed no significant impact of the policy on the number of patrons in the area during high-alcohol hours. The number of commercial hotel licenses increased in all three regions, and commercial other-bar licenses increased in all regions except Surfers Paradise SNP where numbers remained stable.

Discussion And Conclusions: Patterns in trading and the number of patrons within SNPs were mostly stable or increasing following the implementation of the TAFV policy beyond normal fluctuations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.13271DOI Listing
July 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

Assessing the impact of Queensland's late-night alcohol restrictions using health system data.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2021 Jul 19;40(5):698-707. Epub 2021 May 19.

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Introduction And Aims: In an attempt to reduce alcohol-related harm in night-time entertainment precincts, the Queensland state government (Australia) introduced the Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence strategy in July 2016, including restrictions on late-night service of alcohol and-later-compulsory ID scanners at venues. In this article, we examined the impact of these changes on emergency department (ED) presentations and hospital admissions for alcohol-related harm.

Design And Methods: We used data on ED presentations (July 2009-June 2019) and hospital admissions (July 2009-December 2018). Interrupted time series models using seasonal auto-regressive integrated moving average methods were developed to test the impact of the policy change on presentations for alcohol intoxication, any injury or maxillofacial fractures, and admissions for rates of assault-related injuries or maxillofacial fractures. Analyses were conducted using state-wide Queensland data with a sub-analysis focussing on major Brisbane hospitals.

Results: The introduction of 3 am last drinks and mandatory ID scanners had no significant impact on most outcome measures, either across the state or within Brisbane. State-wide, there was a significant decline in ED injury presentations following the introduction of mandatory ID scanners.

Discussion And Conclusions: The introduction of the Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence strategy in Queensland Safe Night Precincts was potentially associated with a small reduction in injury presentations to EDs. The lack of other impacts may relate to the relative lack of specificity in health system data, which challenges in the implementation of the Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence policies or other local factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.13182DOI 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

The combined impact of higher-risk on-license venue outlet density and trading hours on serious assaults in night-time entertainment precincts.

Drug Alcohol Depend 2021 Jun 12;223:108720. Epub 2021 Apr 12.

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

Background: Night-time entertainment precincts (NEPs) are clusters of higher-risk on-licence venues, that pose a significant burden on health and social order services. Outlet density and trading hours are two of the most well researched contributors to alcohol availability within NEPs; increases in outlet density and late-night trading hours within NEPs have been independently associated with increased assaults. This is the first study to examine both factors across cities to predict alcohol-related assaults.

Methods: Licensing data were used to investigate the effect of outlet density and trading hours on police recorded serious assaults in nine NEPs (9 cross-sectional units) across Queensland from January 2010 to July 2018 at monthly intervals (102 longitudinal units). Multi-level models were used to determine i) whether precinct-level trading hours moderated the relationship between outlet density and serious assaults; and ii) the impact of outlets closing before 12am, 3am, and 5am on serious assaults.

Findings: The positive relationship between outlet density and assaults was stronger in precincts with trading hours ending at 5am compared to 3am (IRR = 1.01, p = 0.03). The amount of venues closing before 12am was associated with reduced numbers of assaults (IRR = 0.97, p = 0.04), while venues closing between 12:01am-3am and 3:01am-5am were associated with increased assaults (IRR = 1.02, p<0.01; IRR = 1.01, p = 0.02).

Conclusions: Late night service of alcohol creates more harm in areas of high outlet density, whereas early closing venues in areas where outlet density is low is associated with reduced number of assaults. This relationship should be taken into account in the development of future alcohol policies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.108720DOI Listing
June 2021

The impact of a minimum unit price on wholesale alcohol supply trends in the Northern Territory, Australia.

Aust N Z J Public Health 2021 Feb;45(1):26-33

National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Western Australia.

Objective: The Northern Territory (NT) Government introduced a minimum unit price (MUP) of $1.30 per standard drink (10g pure alcohol) explicitly aimed at reducing the consumption of cheap wine products from October 2018. We aimed to assess the impact of the NT MUP on estimates of beverage-specific population-adjusted alcohol consumption using wholesale alcohol supply data.

Methods: Interrupted time series analyses were conducted to examine MUP effects on trends in estimated per capita alcohol consumption (PCAC) for cask wine, total wine and total alcohol, across the NT and in the Darwin/Palmerston region.

Results: Significant step decreases were found for cask wine and total wine PCAC in Darwin/Palmerston and across the Northern Territory. PCAC of cask wine decreased by 50.6% in the NT, and by 48.8% in Darwin/Palmerston compared to the prior year. PCAC for other beverages (e.g. beer) were largely unaffected by MUP. Overall, PCAC across the Territory declined, but not in Darwin/Palmerston.

Conclusion: With minimal implementation costs, the Northern Territory Government's MUP policy successfully targeted and reduced cask wine and total wine consumption. Cask wine, in particular, almost halved in Darwin/Palmerston where the impact of the MUP was able to be determined and considering other interventions. Implications for public health: Implementation of a minimum unit price for retail alcohol sales is a cost-effective way to reduce the consumption of high alcohol content and high-risk products, such as cheap cask wine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.13055DOI Listing
February 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

Alcohol Accessibility and Family Violence-related Ambulance Attendances.

J Interpers Violence 2021 Jan 18:886260520986262. Epub 2021 Jan 18.

Monash University, Box Hill, Australia.

There is substantial evidence supporting the association between alcohol license density and violent crime. However, the impact of different types of alcohol licenses on intimate partner and family violence is sparse. We explored the associations between access to alcohol outlets, and family and intimate partner violence using paramedic clinical records, given this service is often the first to respond to acute crises. Coded ambulance attendance data from 694 postcodes in Victoria, Australia, from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018 where alcohol or another drug, mental health or self-harm associated with family or intimate partner violence was indicated were examined. A hybrid model of spatial autoregressive and negative binomial zero-inflated Poisson-based count regression models was used to examine associations with alcohol outlet density and socioeconomic factors. We found that access to a liquor license outlet was significantly associated with family violence-related attendances across all types of outlets, including on-premise (late night) licenses ( = 1.73, SE: 0.18), restaurant licenses ( = 0.83, SE: 0.28), and packaged liquor licenses ( = 0.62, SE: 0.06). Our results demonstrate a significant relationship between alcohol-related harms in the context of family violence and provides evidence of the relationship between alcohol-related family violence in both victims and perpetrators. The findings of this study highlight the need for public health interventions such as licensing policy and town planning changes to reduce these harms by restricting alcohol availability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0886260520986262DOI Listing
January 2021

The prospective impact of 10-day patron bans on crime in Queensland's largest entertainment precincts.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2021 Jul 27;40(5):771-778. Epub 2020 Dec 27.

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Introduction: Night-time entertainment precincts (NEP) are the site of a disproportionate amount of alcohol-related violence, injuries and anti-social behaviour. To combat this the Queensland government introduced patron bans in October 2014, giving police the power to exclude individuals from NEPs and preventing patrons from remaining in or entering the designated area or from designated premises for the ban duration. Mandatory identification scanners within licensed venues were also introduced, which are used to enforce patron bans. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of police-issued 10-day patron bans for preventing alcohol-related violence or anti-social behaviour occurring within NEPs during high-alcohol hours.

Methods: Queensland's largest NEPs; Brisbane central business district, Fortitude Valley and Surfers Paradise central business district; were examined. Time-series autoregressive integrated moving average analyses were used to estimate the influence of 10-day patron bans on police-recorded serious assaults, common assaults and good order offences. Analyses controlled for the introduction of relevant policy and identification scanners.

Results: The number of police-issued patron bans did not significantly predict changes in serious assault, common assault or good order offence trends the weekend following the ban (within the 10-day period).

Discussion And Conclusions: The current study was unable to find evidence indicating that 10-day patron bans reduced alcohol-related harms experienced in Queensland's largest NEPs in the short term. Further research needs to be conducted examining other types of patron bans, particularly longer bans issued in other jurisdictions or by licensees, and whether bans change individual's behaviour.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.13234DOI Listing
July 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

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

The Impact of Liquor Restrictions on Serious Assaults across Queensland, Australia.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2019 11 8;16(22). Epub 2019 Nov 8.

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

: This study aimed to explore the relationship between a 00:00 liquor restriction, introduced on 1 July 2016, and alcohol-related harm by examining its impact on serious assault numbers during high-alcohol hours (20:00-6:00 Friday and Saturday night), from 1 January 2009 to 30 June 2018. : Two types of locations only impacted by the liquor restriction were identified: designated safe night precincts (SNPs) and other local government areas (LGAs). A times series autoregressive integrated moving average analysis was used to estimate the influence of liquor restrictions on police-recorded serious assaults in the two years following the policy introduction, for SNPs and LGAs separately. : Contrarily to our predictions, monthly police-recorded serious assaults did not significantly change within SNPs or LGAs following the introduction of liquor restrictions. : The implementation of the Queensland liquor restriction did not result in a clear, unique reduction in serious assault trends. Further investigation should consider the impact of liquor restrictions in conjunction with other policy changes as public perception of restrictions and their cumulative impact may produce varied outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224362DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6888486PMC
November 2019

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

Aggression in the Australian night time economy: A comparison of alcohol only versus alcohol and illicit drug consumption.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2019 11 23;38(7):744-749. Epub 2019 Oct 23.

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Introduction And Aims: Associations between substance use and aggression may be amplified by simultaneous alcohol and illicit drug use. This study aims to compare differences in involvement in past aggression between people who use different substances while accounting for broader risk propensity.

Design And Methods: Self-reported data on past three-month involvement in verbal and physical aggression (victim or perpetrator) were drawn from interviews conducted in night-time entertainment districts in seven Australian cities (n = 5078). Using inverse probability of treatment weighting techniques, participants who reported alcohol versus alcohol and illicit drug use on the night of interview (including ecstasy, cannabis and other illicit stimulant subgroups) were weighted on the basis of drug use risk covariates (e.g. alcohol consumed, gender) to determine differences in involvement in aggression involvement.

Results: After weighting for covariates, individuals who reported consuming any illicit drug + alcohol and ecstasy + alcohol combinations were more likely to be involved in physical (33% and 105%, respectively) and verbal (36% and 116%, respectively) aggression in the previous 3-months when compared to those who consumed alcohol only. Cannabis + alcohol and other illicit stimulant + alcohol combinations were no more likely to be involved in either forms of aggression.

Discussion And Conclusions: The likelihood of having been involved in past aggressive incidents was higher among those who reported any illicit drug + alcohol and ecstasy + alcohol combinations than those who reported alcohol exclusively, after accounting for covariates. These findings highlight individuals that may benefit most from the development of tailored health promotion/preventative safety interventions in night-time settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.12998DOI Listing
November 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

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

Driving change: A partnership study protocol using shared emergency department data to reduce alcohol-related harm.

Emerg Med Australas 2019 12 14;31(6):942-947. Epub 2019 Mar 14.

Crime and Security Research Institute, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.

Background: Sharing anonymised ED data with community agencies to reduce alcohol-related injury and assaults has been found effective in the UK. This protocol document outlines the design of an Australian multi-site trial using shared, anonymised ED data to reduce alcohol-related harm.

Design And Method: Nine hospitals will participate in a 36 month stepped-wedge cluster randomised trial. After a 9 month baseline period, EDs will be randomised in five groups, clustered on geographic proximity, to commence the intervention at 3 monthly intervals. 'Last-drinks' data regarding alcohol use in the preceding 12 h, typical alcohol consumption amount, and location of alcohol purchase and consumption, are to be prospectively collected by ED triage nurses and clinicians at all nine EDs as a part of standard clinical process. Brief information flyers will be delivered to all ED patients who self-report risky alcohol consumption. Public Health Interventions to be conducted are: (i) information sharing with venues (via letter), and (ii) with police and other community agencies, and (iii) the option for public release of 'Top 5' venue lists.

Outcomes: Primary outcomes will be: (i) the number and proportion of ED attendances among patients reporting recent alcohol use; and (ii) the number and proportion of ED attendances during high-alcohol hours (Friday and Saturday nights, 20.00-06.00 hours) assigned an injury diagnosis. Process measures will assess logistical and feasibility concerns, and clinical impacts of implementing this systems-change model in an Australian context. An economic cost-benefit analysis will evaluate the economic impact, or return on investment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1742-6723.13266DOI Listing
December 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

A mapping review of evaluations of alcohol policy restrictions targeting alcohol-related harm in night-time entertainment precincts.

Int J Drug Policy 2018 12 19;62:1-13. Epub 2018 Oct 19.

Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.

Background: Alcohol-related harm in night-time entertainment precincts (NEPs) is disproportionately high for the amount of alcohol consumed within these areas. Previous evaluations of alcohol restrictions targeting NEPs have often looked at restrictions in isolation and not attempted to create a comprehensive theoretical explanation that takes multiple restrictions into account. The aim of this review is to establish which restrictions have been adequately evaluated in previous literature, and to identify any research which may provide the basis for a theoretical model that explains the interactions between different alcohol restrictions in NEPs and their combined impact on alcohol-related-harm.

Methods: A mapping review was conducted to plot evaluations of the effectiveness of different alcohol restrictions in NEPs at reducing assault and injury rates (protocol PROSPERO 2017: CRD42017069773). Six databases and 145 websites were searched, results were categorised based on the type of restrictions evaluated: Outlet density, trading hours, lockouts, price, patron bans, and drinks restrictions.

Results: Forty-eight articles were identified out of 20,743 returned by the systematic search. Thirty-five of these papers were original works, and 13 reviews. Outlet density was examined in 15 of the papers, trading hours in 30, lockouts in 21, price in 2, patron bans in 7 and drinks restrictions in 15.

Conclusion: No pre-existing theoretical models were identified. Outlet density, trading hours, and price restrictions all had evidence that suggested high levels of effectiveness in NEPs and would be suitable for inclusion in a theoretical model. More research is required before attempting to include lockouts, patron bans and drinks restrictions in a theoretical model. Future research should focus on establishing a theoretical model based on evidence of effective alcohol restrictions and gathering an evidence base for under-researched restrictions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2018.09.012DOI Listing
December 2018

Lessons from Queensland's last-drinks legislation: The use of extended trading permits.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2018 05 16;37(4):537-545. Epub 2018 Apr 16.

The Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Introduction And Aims: The association between alcohol availability, alcohol consumption and, in turn, alcohol-related harms is well established. Policies to reduce alcohol-related harms focus on limiting accessibility through the regulation of the liquor industry, including trading hours. On 1 July 2016, the Queensland Government introduced legislation to reduce ordinary liquor trading hours, replacing 5 am closing times with 3 am cessation of liquor sales in designated entertainment precincts and 2 am cessation of sales across the rest of the state. However, the amendment was under-inclusive and did not apply to temporary extended trading permits, a provision of the Liquor Act 1992 allowing one-off variations in trading hours for special events.

Design And Methods: We use 24 months of data (1 January 2015 to 31 December 2016) from the Office of Liquor Gaming and Regulation to explore patterns of extended trading permit use across Queensland, pre- and post- 1 July 2016.

Results: We find that following the Amendment in 2016 there was also a distinct shift in the utilisation of temporary extended trading permits, with a 63% increase in approved permits between 2015 and 2016. Temporal clustering around key calendar events dissipated following 1 July 2016 with consistent concentration of permit utilisation over consecutive weeks.

Discussion And Conclusions: Using temporary extended trading permits venue owners avoided earlier closing times and continued to operate until 5 am. The findings provide lessons for future policy implementation by illustrating the capacity for under-inclusive legislation to result in the dilution of intended effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dar.12701DOI Listing
May 2018

Adolescents' alcohol use and strength of policy relating to youth access, trading hours and driving under the influence: findings from Australia.

Addiction 2018 06 21;113(6):1030-1042. Epub 2018 Feb 21.

Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council, Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

Aims: To determine (i) whether the strength of Australian alcohol control policy in three domains (youth access, trading hours and drink driving) changed during the 2000s; and (ii) estimate associations between these policies and adolescent drinking after adjusting for television alcohol advertising exposures, alcohol outlet density, alcohol price changes, exposure to negative articles about alcohol in daily newspapers and adult drinking prevalence.

Design: Repeated cross-sectional surveys conducted triennially from 2002 to 2011. Multi-level modelling examined the association between alcohol control policies and drinking prevalence after adjusting for covariates.

Setting: Four Australian capital cities between 2002 and 2011.

Participants: Students aged 12-17 years participating in a triennial national representative school-based survey (sample size range/survey: 9805-13 119).

Measurements: Outcome measures were: past month drinking and risky drinking (5+ drinks on a day) in the past 7 days. Policy strength in each of three domains (youth access, trading hours, drink-driving) were the key predictor variables. Covariates included: past 3-month television alcohol and alcohol-control advertising, alcohol outlet density, alcohol price change, negatively framed newspaper alcohol articles, adult drinking prevalence and student demographic characteristics.

Findings: During the study period, the strength of youth access policies increased by 10%, trading hours policies by 14% and drink-driving policies by 58%. Past-month and risky drinking prevalence decreased (e.g. past-month: 2002: 47.4% to 2011: 26.3%). Multivariable analyses that included all policy variables and adjusted for year, student and other covariates showed past-month drinking to be associated inversely with stronger trading hours policies [odds ratio (OR) = 0.80, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.69, 0.94], but not youth access (OR = 0.92 95% CI = 0.81, 1.04) or drink-driving (OR = 1.00, 95% CI = 0.93, 1.09). Risky drinking was associated inversely with stronger youth access policies (OR = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.69, 0.98), but not trading hours (OR = 0.85, 95% CI = 0.66, 1.09) or drink-driving (OR = 1.02, 95% CI = 0.90, 1.14) policies.

Conclusions: Population-directed policies designed to reduce alcohol availability and promotion may reduce adolescents' alcohol use.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/add.14164DOI Listing
June 2018
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