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Measuring Alcohol Outlet Density: an Overview of Strategies for Public Health Practitioners
  • Published Date:
    May 20 2019
  • Source:
    J Public Health Manag Pract.
  • Language:
    English


Public Access Version Available on: November 20, 2020, 12:00 AM information icon
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Details:
  • Alternative Title:
    J Public Health Manag Pract
  • Description:
    Context: Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 88,000 deaths in the U.S. annually, and cost the U.S. $249 billion in 2010. There is strong scientific evidence that regulating alcohol outlet density is an effective intervention for reducing excessive alcohol consumption and related harms, but there is no standard method for measuring this exposure. Program: We overview the strategies available for measuring outlet density, discuss their advantages and disadvantages, and provide examples of how they can be applied in practice. Implementation: The three main approaches for measuring density are: container-based (e.g., number of outlets in a county), distance-based (e.g., average distance between a college and outlets), and spatial access-based (e.g., weighted distance between town center and outlets). Evaluation: While container-based measures are the simplest to calculate and most intuitive, distance- or spatial access-based measures are unconstrained by geopolitical boundaries and allow for assessment of clustering (an amplifier of certain alcohol-related harms). Spatial access-based measures can also be adjusted for population size/demographics, but are the most resource-intensive to produce. Discussion: Alcohol outlet density varies widely across and between locations and over time, which is why it is important to measure it. Routine public health surveillance of alcohol outlet density is important to identify problem areas and detect emerging ones. Distance- or spatial access-based measures of alcohol outlet density are more resource-intensive than container-based measures, but provide a much more accurate assessment of exposure to alcohol outlets and can be used to assess clustering, which is particularly important when assessing the relationship between density and alcohol-related harms, such as violent crime.
  • Pubmed ID:
    31136416
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC7263305
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