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West J Emerg Med. 2012 Aug;13(3):283-8. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2012.3.11774.

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



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.


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.


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.


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.

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