Wom en’s Description s of Drin king in Bars:
Reason s an d Risks
Kathleen A. Par ks,
Brend a A. Miller, R. Lor rain e Collin s, and
Research In stitute on Addictions Buffalo, NY 14203
Fifty-two wom en bar drinkers participated in focus group discu ssions abou t
women ’s reasons for drin king, victim ization experiences, and behaviors that
influ ence risk for victimization , in bars. The majority of the participants were
White (67.3% ), one-third were Black (30.8% ), and one was Native Am erican.
Qualitative data analytic techniques were used to assess the con tent of these
discu ssions. Wom en described distinct reasons for goin g to bars an d provided
nu merous accoun ts of aggression they had witnessed or experienced associated
with this setting. Depictions of physical violen ce ranged from having an object
thrown at them or being pushed, to accou nts of rape and attem pted m urder.
These wom en also described observable changes in other wom en ’s behavior
followin g alcoh ol consumption , and how these behaviors in crease risk for
victim ization in bars. The qualitative findings are discu ssed in terms of what
they tell us about women bar drinkers an d the insight they provide for designing
future studies an d interventions that focus on education and prevention.
Reports on women’s alcohol consumption indicate that since the pre-World
War II era the pe rcentage of women who consume alcohol has rise n from
less than 40% to more than 60% (e.g., Collins, 1993; National Institute on
Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1985; Taylor & St.Pie rre, 1986) . These
rate s are highe r for some subgroups of wome n; approximate ly 70% of
Sex Roles, Vol. 38, Nos. 9/10, 1998
0360-0025 /98/0500-0701$ 15.00/0
1998 Plenum Pub lishing Corporati on
An e arlie r version of this article was pre sente d at the APA Wome n and He alth Confe re nce,
September 1996, in Washington, DC.
We thank Rina Das Eiden and Maria Te sta for their he lpful comm en ts on an earlie r
version of this article. Preparation of this article was supported in part by NIAAA grant
K01AA00233-01 awarde d to the first author.
To who m correspondence should be addre ssed at Research Institute on Addictions, 1021
Main St., Buffalo, NY 14203.