Alcohol misuse among college students is a significant public health problem that can have negative long-term implications. One important correlate of problem drinking among college female populations is sexual violence. The current study investigated: (1) past year sexual violence and its association with alcohol consumption and related psychosocial variables (stress, coping, and mental health); and (2) whether the impact of an alcohol intervention was different for college women with a history of sexual violence compared to those without such a history.
Female undergraduate students (N = 351) who participated in the Brief Alcohol Screen in College Students (BASICS) completed web-based surveys measuring alcohol and drug use, psychosocial factors, and sexual violence at baseline and six-month follow-up.
At baseline, women who experienced sexual violence reported less use of protective alcohol strategies, more positive coping skills, and more mental health symptoms. Following the intervention, alcohol consumption decreased significantly among the entire sample; however no significant differences in consumption were identified based on a history of sexual violence. Yet, compared to women not reporting sexual violence, women who reported recent sexual violence showed greater improvements in mental health outcomes (p < 0.05).
Findings suggest that brief alcohol interventions may have a differential impact on alcohol-related outcomes based on whether or not women have experienced recent sexual violence.
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