JOURNAL ARTICLE

Dating violence against adolescent girls and associated substance use, unhealthy weight control, sexual risk behavior, pregnancy, and suicidality

J G Silverman, A Raj, L A Mucci, J E Hathaway
JAMA 2001 August 1, 286 (5): 572-9
11476659

CONTEXT: Intimate partner violence against women is a major public health concern. Research among adults has shown that younger age is a consistent risk factor for experiencing and perpetrating intimate partner violence. However, no representative epidemiologic studies of lifetime prevalence of dating violence among adolescents have been conducted.

OBJECTIVE: To assess lifetime prevalence of physical and sexual violence from dating partners among adolescent girls and associations of these forms of violence with specific health risks.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Female 9th through 12th-grade students who participated in the 1997 and 1999 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (n = 1977 and 2186, respectively).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Lifetime prevalence rates of physical and sexual dating violence and whether such violence is independently associated with substance use, unhealthy weight control, sexual risk behavior, pregnancy, and suicidality.

RESULTS: Approximately 1 in 5 female students (20.2% in 1997 and 18.0% in 1999) reported being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. After controlling for the effects of potentially confounding demographics and risk behaviors, data from both surveys indicate that physical and sexual dating violence against adolescent girls is associated with increased risk of substance use (eg, cocaine use for 1997, odds ratio [OR], 4.7; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.3-9.6; for 1999, OR, 3.4; 95% CI, 1.7-6.7), unhealthy weight control behaviors (eg, use of laxatives and/or vomiting [for 1997, OR, 3.2; 95% CI, 1.8-5.5; for 1999, OR, 3.7; 95% CI, 2.2-6.5]), sexual risk behaviors (eg, first intercourse before age 15 years [for 1997, OR, 8.2; 95% CI, 5.1-13.4; for 1999, OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.4-4.2]), pregnancy (for 1997, OR, 6.3; 95% CI, 3.4-11.7; for 1999, OR, 3.9; 95% CI, 1.9-7.8), and suicidality (eg, attempted suicide [for 1997, OR, 7.6; 95% CI, 4.7-12.3; for 1999, OR, 8.6; 95% CI, 5.2-14.4]).

CONCLUSION: Dating violence is extremely prevalent among this population, and adolescent girls who report a history of experiencing dating violence are more likely to exhibit other serious health risk behaviors.

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