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Activity Spaces: Assessing Differences in Alcohol Exposures and Alcohol Use for Parents

  • Freisthler, Bridget
  • Kepple, Nancy J.
  • Wolf, Jennifer Price
  • Carson, Leslie
Published Article
Publication Date
Aug 01, 2019
DOI: 10.1007/s10708-019-10059-5
PMID: 33132483
PMCID: PMC7597847
PubMed Central
  • Article


Parental alcohol use and alcohol outlet densities in residential areas are related to risk for child maltreatment. However, some parents spend significant time outside of their residential neighborhood. Thus, we may not be accurately assessing how alcohol environments are related to risks for problematic parenting. Here, we examine how residential environments and activity spaces are related to outlet density and whether drinking events in our sample of parents differ by location (e.g., routine vs. rare locations) and whether their children are present. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 60 parents living in four cities in the San Francisco Bay area who provided information on where they spent time, where they drank, and whether children were present. We constructed measures of activity spaces (e.g., convex hull polygons) and activity patterns (e.g., shortest network distance) and calculated outlet density in each. Density of alcohol outlets for residential Census tract was not related to density of the activity space and activity pattern measures. Alcohol use occurred more frequently (regardless of whether their children were present) inside activity spaces operationalized as convex hull polygons or two standard deviational ellipses. Measures that capture larger activity space areas (e.g., convex hull polygons, two standard deviational ellipses) may better model where people spend time, regardless of whether the location is routine or rare. By continuing to use activity spaces to explore relationships between outlet densities, drinking behaviors, and problems, we can start to ascertain those mechanisms by which outlets may affect local problems.

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