History of Sexual Abuse and Development of Sexual Risk Behavior in Low-Income, Urban African American Girls Seeking Mental Health Treatment

a Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences , Stanford University School of Medicine , Stanford , California , USA.
Women & Health (Impact Factor: 1.05). 05/2013; 53(4):384-404. DOI: 10.1080/03630242.2013.790337
Source: PubMed


This study examined relationships between sexual abuse and patterns of sexual risk-taking among low-income, urban African American adolescent girls seeking mental health treatment.

Participants (N = 158) were 12- to 16-year-old African American girls recruited from outpatient mental health clinics serving urban, mostly low-socioeconomic status communities in Chicago, Illinois and followed for two years between 2003 and 2010. This study included self-reports of sexual abuse and four waves (T2-T5) of self-reported data on sexual experience and sexual risk-taking (number of partners, inconsistent condom use, and sex with a risky partner). Latent curve modeling was used to examine patterns of sexual behavior over the four time points with sexual abuse and mental health symptoms as covariates.

Sexual abuse was significantly associated with T2 sexual experience, T2-T4 number of partners, T3 inconsistent condom use, and T2-T3 having a risky partner. These relationships decreased when mental health symptoms were controlled.

This longitudinal study revealed a complex relationship between sexual abuse and sexual risk that would be missed if sexual risk were assessed at a single time point. Findings supported early intervention to delay onset of sexual risk behavior among low-income African American girls with mental health concerns and histories of sexual abuse.

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