Problematic alcohol use and sexual assault among male college students: The moderating and mediating roles of alcohol outcome expectancies

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Abstract

Background and Objectives:

Extant research shows a strong relationship between alcohol use problems and sexual aggression. However, less is known about the effect of intermediary factors (eg, alcohol expectations) that may increase the likelihood of and/or explain sexual aggression during alcohol-related incidents. The present study examined alcohol outcome expectancies' (OE) mediating and/or moderating influence on the relationship between problematic alcohol use severity and sexual aggression among male college students.

Methods and Results:

One hundred and forty eight (n = 148) male college students volunteered for the study. Seventy-seven males self-reported committing at least one act of sexual aggression in their lifetime. Among those who sexually aggressed, 74% also reported symptoms of problematic drinking. Results show that sexuality-related alcohol OE fully mediated the relationship between problematic alcohol use severity and sexual aggression. Results also showed that aggression-related alcohol OE moderated the relationship between problematic alcohol use severity and sexual aggression. Specifically, aggression-related alcohol OE only influenced the relationship between problematic alcohol use and sexual aggression when alcohol problems were less severe.

Conclusions and Scientific Significance:

Discussion implicates the possible role alcohol prevention may play in reducing sexual aggression on college campuses, particularly as it relates to adjusting alcohol OE among those most likely to perpetrate. (Am J Addict 2014;23:321–328)

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