Alcohol Outlets, Gonorrhea, and the Los Angeles Civil Unrest

A Longitudinal Analysis

Published in: Social Science and Medicine, v. 62, no. 12, June 2006, p. 3062-3071

by Deborah A. Cohen, Bonnie Ghosh-Dastidar, Richard Scribner, Angela Miu, Molly M. Scott, Paul L. Robinson, Thomas Farley, Ricky N. Bluthenthal, Didra Brown-Taylor

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

This study tests the effect of neighborhood changes on gonorrhea rates. Prior studies that indicate gonorrhea rates are associated with alcohol outlet density and neighborhood deterioration have been cross-sectional and cannot establish causality. After the 1992 Civil Unrest in Los Angeles, 270 alcohol outlets surrendered their licenses due to arson and vandalism thus providing a natural experiment. The authors geocoded all reported gonorrhea cases from 1988 to 1996 in LA County, all annually licensed alcohol outlets, and all properties damaged as a result of the civil unrest. We ran individual growth models to examine the independent effects of changes in alcohol outlets and damaged buildings on gonorrhea. The individual growth model explained over 90% of the residual variance in census tract gonorrhea rates. After the civil unrest, a unit decrease in the number of alcohol outlets per mile of roadway was associated with 21 fewer gonorrhea cases per 100,000 (p<.01) in tracts affected by the Unrest compared to those not affected. Neighborhood alcohol outlets appear to be significantly associated with changes in gonorrhea rates. The findings suggest that efforts to control sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea and HIV, should address contextual factors that facilitate high-risk behaviors and disease transmission.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.