Category: Violence / Aggression
Objective: Research reveals multiple risk domains (demographics, substance use, relationship type, situational factors) are related to aggression. Relatively few studies have examined the role of such factors simultaneously, with little attention to how reasons for conflict (e.g., arguing about parenting, disrespected/provoked, buying/selling drugs) may be associated with various forms of aggression. This study examined the relationships among demographics, substance use [heavy drinking (HD), cocaine use], relationship type and reasons for conflict and severity of psychological (PSYAGG), physical (PHYSAGG) and injury (INJAGG) aggression incidents among veterans in treatment.
Method: Participants (n=180; 92% male; M age = 43) were veterans enrolled in VA treatment who had past-year aggression and substance use. Participants completed measures of demographics and a semi-structured interview assessing conflict incidents (e.g., severity of PSYAGG, PHYSAGG or INJAGG, heavy drinking (HD) and cocaine use, and reasons for conflict for each conflict incident). Negative Binomial Regression analyses (with multilevel modeling) were conducted to examine the relationship of demographics, heavy drinking and cocaine use, relationship type and reasons for conflict with severity of PSYAGG, PHYSAGG and INJAGG.
Results: Participants reported 1308 conflicts in the past six months, with 91% involving PSYAGG, 31% PHYSAGG and 6% involving INJAGG.PSYAGG was significantly associated with older age (β = .01), race (β = .23), arguing over spending time together (β = .18) and being disrespected/provoked (β = .20). PHYSAGG was associated with younger age (β = -.02), arguing over parenting issues (β = -1.27), retaliation (β = 1.05), arguing over buying/selling drugs (β = .75), HD (β = 1.40), cocaine use (β = 1.20) and the HD x cocaine interaction (β = -2.08). Finally, INJAGG was associated with younger age (β = -.06), relationship type (β = -1.15), arguing regarding parenting issues (β = -1.90), conflict over buying/selling drugs (β = 1.56) and HD (β = 1.54).
Conclusions: Different factors were associated with the severity of different types of aggression, with alcohol and/or cocaine use playing a more significant role in PHYSAGG and INJAGG. In terms of conflict reasons, arguing over parenting issues was related to lower severity of PHYSAGG and INJAGG, whereas conflicts about buying/selling drugs was associated with more severe PHYSAGG and INJAGG. The findings are consistent with biopsychosocial theories, illustrate that multiple risk domains are related to the severity of aggression, but that the specific factors associated with PSYAGG, PHYSAGG and INJAGG appear to differ. (Supported by VA Merit Review Grant: HX000294; IIR 09-333-3)
Stephen Chermack– Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Jamie Winters– Associate Director of Clinical Training, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Quyen Epstein-NGO– Research Assistant Professor, University of Michigan Injury Center
Maureen Walton– Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Steven Friday– Project Coordinator, VA Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Sheila Rauch– Associate Professor, Associate Professor, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
Erin Bonar– Assistant Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Alan Kooi-Davis– Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Associate Director of Clinical Training
VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Associate Professor, Emory University School of Medicine