COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

History of dating violence and the association with late adolescent health

Amy E Bonomi, Melissa L Anderson, Julianna Nemeth, Frederick P Rivara, Cynthia Buettner
BMC Public Health 2013, 13: 821
24015863

BACKGROUND: The present investigation expands upon prior studies by examining the relationship between health in late adolescence and the experience of physical/sexual and non-physical dating violence victimization, including dating violence types that are relevant to today's adolescents (e.g., harassment via email and text messaging). We examined the relationship between physical/sexual and non-physical dating violence victimization from age 13 to 19 and health in late adolescence/early adulthood.

METHODS: The sample comprised 585 subjects (ages 18 to 21; mean age, 19.8, SD = 1.0) recruited from The Ohio State University who completed an online survey to assess: 1) current health (depression, disordered eating, binge drinking, smoking, and frequent sexual behavior); and 2) dating violence victimization from age 13 to 19 (retrospectively assessed using eight questions covering physical, sexual, and non-physical abuse, including technology-related abuse involving stalking/harassment via text messaging and email). Multivariable models compared health indicators in never-exposed subjects to those exposed to physical/sexual or non-physical dating violence only. The multivariable models were adjusted for age and other non-dating abuse victimization (bullying; punched, kicked, choked by a parent/guardian; touched in a sexual place, forced to touch someone sexually).

RESULTS: In adjusted analyses, compared to non-exposed females, females with physical/sexual dating violence victimization were at increased risk of smoking (prevalence ratio = 3.95); depressive symptoms (down/hopeless, PR = 2.00; lost interest, PR = 1.79); eating disorders (using diet aids, PR = 1.98; fasting, PR = 4.71; vomiting to lose weight, PR = 4.33); and frequent sexual behavior (5+ intercourse and oral sex partners, PR = 2.49, PR = 2.02; having anal sex, PR = 2.82). Compared to non-exposed females, females with non-physical dating violence only were at increased risk of smoking (PR = 3.61), depressive symptoms (down/hopeless, PR = 1.41; lost interest, PR = 1.36), eating disorders (fasting, PR = 3.37; vomiting, PR = 2.66), having 5+ intercourse partners (PR = 2.20), and having anal sex (PR = 2.18). For males, no health differences were observed for those experiencing physical/sexual dating violence compared to those who did not. Compared to non-exposed males, males with non-physical dating violence only were at increased risk of smoking (PR = 3.91) and disordered eating (fasting, using diet aids, vomiting, PR = 2.93).

CONCLUSIONS: For females, more pronounced adverse health was observed for those exposed to physical/sexual versus non-physical dating violence. For both females and males, non-physical dating violence victimization contributed to poor health.

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