Does the alcohol make them do it? Dating violence perpetration and drinking among youth

Emily F. Rothman, Luz McNaughton Reyes, Renee M. Johnson, Michael LaValley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Strong evidence links alcohol use to partner violence perpetration among adults, but the relation between youth alcohol use and dating violence perpetration (DVP) is not as well studied. The authors used meta-analytic procedures to evaluate current knowledge on the association between alcohol use and DVP among youth. The authors reviewed 28 studies published in 1985-2010; most (82%) were cross-sectional. Alcohol use was measured in 3 main ways: 1) frequency or quantity of use, 2) frequency of heavy episodic drinking, or 3) problem use. Collectively, results support the conclusion that higher levels of alcohol use are positively associated with youth DVP. With fixed-effects models, the combined odds ratios for DVP for frequency/quantity, heavy episodic drinking, and problem use were 1.23 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.16, 1.31), 1.47 (95% CI: 1.17, 1.85), and 2.33 (95% CI: 1.94, 2.80), respectively. This association persisted even after accounting for heterogeneity and publication bias. No studies were designed to assess the immediate temporal association between drinking and DVP. Future research should assess whether there are acute or pharmacologic effects of alcohol use on youth DVP. Furthermore, few studies have been hypothesis driven, controlled for potential confounding, or examined potential effect measure modification. Studies designed to investigate the youth alcohol-DVP link specifically, and whether results vary by individuals' gender, developmental stage, or culture, are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-119
Number of pages17
JournalEpidemiologic reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • alcoholic intoxication
  • alcoholism
  • domestic violence
  • spouse abuse
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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