Purpose: This study assessed the contribution of neighborhood poverty, measured at the census tract level, to the risk of male-to-female and female-to-male partner violence (MFPV, FMPV) among white, black, and Hispanic couples in the United States.
Methods: As part of the 1995 National Alcohol Survey, a representative sample of married/cohabiting couples was obtained through a multistage, multicluster household probability sampling frame. The outcome variables, MFPV and FMPV, were measured through the Conflict Tactics Scale, Form R. Sociodemographic, psychosocial, and alcohol consumption covariates that were statistically significant through bivariate analysis were retained as individual-level predictors. Neighborhood poverty, indicating residence in a census tract where greater than 20% of the population lived below the Federal poverty line, was assessed by appending 1990 Census data to the primary data set. Multilevel logistic regression models were constructed, with separate analyses performed for each outcome (MFPV, FMPV) among the white, black, and Hispanic couples.
Results: Couples residing in impoverished neighborhoods are at increased risk for both MFPV and FMPV. The association between residence in an impoverished neighborhood and MFPV was statistically significant for black couples (Odds Ratio [OR] 2.87; 95% Confidence Interval [CI] 1.36, 6.07). The association between residence in an impoverished neighborhood and FMPV was statistically significant for black couples and white couples.
Conclusions: Characteristics of the socioenvironment, such as neighborhood poverty, are associated with the risk of partner violence, particularly among black couples. Policies aimed at reducing community poverty may contribute to effective partner violence prevention strategies.