Community alcohol sales and related problems: filling the critical research gap

February 2023

Professor Tanya N Chikritzhs and Dr William Gilmore

Other investigators: 

Dr Paul Gruenewald and William Ponicki (Prevention Research Center – Berkeley, California)

Project description: 

A major challenge for studies on the impact of alcohol outlets on neighbourhood health is determining the degree alcohol sales through outlets affect individual and social problems. Studies of outlets and problems focus on alcohol’s physical availability, the number and density of outlets in neighbourhoods, which are generally associated with harms like interpersonal violence and impaired driving.

However, since comprehensive measures of alcohol sales through outlets are rarely available, it is unknown whether the ‘outlet-related effect’ is due to patronising an outlet (e.g. going to a bar) or drinking at an outlet (i.e. drinking at that bar).

The research literature convincingly demonstrates that some problems are related to numbers and density of outlets in neighbourhood areas, making regulation to reduce problems a sensible policy strategy.

However, problems related to outlets may be due to use of alcohol or other human activities in and around those outlets, such as social activities that lead to crowding or greater foot traffic through and around outlets. Without adequate measures of sales, we simply cannot tell the difference.

Part of a grant by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the United States, and led in Australia by NDRI’s Professor Tanya Chikritzhs and Dr William Gilmore, the ‘Community alcohol sales and related problems: filling the critical research gap’ study will use unique local level alcohol sales data collected in WA to distinguish effects of alcohol sales from other factors that influence alcohol-related harm.

Click here to find out more about the grant