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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Race, Ethnicity, Substance Use, and Unwanted Sexual Intercourse among Adolescent Female in the United States


Introduction: The purpose of this study was to examine racial/ethnic disparities in being forced to have sexual intercourse against one’s will, and the effect of substance use on these disparities.

Methods: We analyzed data from adolescent women participating in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Bivariate associations and logistic regression models were assessed to examine associations among race/ethnicity, forced sex, and substance use behaviors.

Results: Being forced to have intercourse against one’s will and substance use behaviors differed by race/ethnicity. African Americans had the highest prevalence of having been forced to have sexual intercourse (11.2%). Hispanic adolescent women were the most likely to drink (76.1%), Caucasians to binge drink (28.2%), and African Americans to use drugs (44.3%). When forced sexual intercourse was regressed onto both race/ethnicity and substance use behaviors, only substance use behaviors were significantly associated with forced sexual intercourse.

Conclusion: Differences in substance use behaviors account for the racial/ethnic differences in the likelihood of forced sexual intercourse. Future studies should explore the cultural and other roots of the racial/ethnic differences in substance use behavior as a step toward developing targeted interventions to prevent unwanted sexual experiences. [West J Emerg Med. 2012;13(3):283–288.]


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