A Spatial Analysis of Student Binge Drinking, Alcohol-Outlet Density, and Social Disadvantages

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Background and Objectives: This paper examined whether and how student binge drinking at the individual level was influenced by population disadvantages, community instability, alcohol-outlet density, and protective factors generated by community and school. Methods: We used a dataset collected in 2002 by the Alabama Department of Mental Health, with additional materials generated by the 2000 Census and from the Alabama State Department of Education. School-catchments were employed as geographic units of analysis. The final sample comprised 78,138 public-school students in grades 6-12 who attended schools located in the 566 school-catchments. Results: We hypothesized the presence of spatial processes that, once identified, would enhance understanding of student binge drinking. Our results confirmed that student binge drinking in a focal area was affected by that area's structural factors and also by individual-level risk and protective factors. The results did not support the hypothesized impact of surrounding areas' characteristics on student binge drinking in the focal area. Conclusions and Scientific Significance: The results of our study clearly indicate that both environment-based factors and individual-level risk and protective factors are important in explaining student binge drinking in Alabama.



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