204571 Exploring challenges in assessing sexual coercion and violence using quantitative approaches

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Saroj Sedalia, MPH , Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York City, NY
Leslie L. Davidson, MD, MSc , Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY
Vaughn I. Rickert, PsyD , Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY
Marina Catallozzi, MD , Pediatrics, Columbia University, New York City, NY
David Bell, MD MPH , Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY
Juan David Gastolomendo , Population and Family Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York City, NY
Aim: To explore the meaning of responses to questions on standardized screens designed to identify victims of sexual coercion or violence.

Background: Researchers have debated the validity of screening measures to assess sexual violence within relationships. Challenges to measuring sexual violence impede understanding the problem and appropriate clinical responses.

Methods: 254 Latino urban young men and women, 18-24 years, responded to a quantitative screen designed to determine eligibility for a qualitative study exploring the evolution of dating violence. The screen included the Conflict in Adolescent Dating Relationships Inventory (CADRI) and a modified Sexual Experiences Survey (SES).

Sexual violence victimization was defined through three CADRI questions and ten SES questions addressing a variety of coercive and/or forced unwanted sexual behaviors ranging from unwanted touching to forced sex. The SES was modified to identify whether the perpetrator was a partner or a stranger.

Results: 38 respondents endorsed sexual victimization on the CADRI questions (15%). 48 endorsed it on the SES (19%). Only 18 endorsed sexual victimization on both. Further analysis, including qualitative interview data, suggests that an affirmative answer to a specific sexual victimization question can represent a wide continuum of sexual coercion - identifying “forced sex” in one screen may in the other, mean giving in to sex or sex play as a result of overwhelming verbal pressure.

Conclusions: Sexual violence screening instruments produce different prevalence rates, varying participant interpretations, and identify different people. More precise screening tools will better inform public health and clinical practitioners as well as policy initiatives.

Learning Objectives:
To discuss the range of behaviors included in definitions of sexual coercion or violence. To compare different screens for sexual coercion. To analyze the lack of precision in screens of sexual coercion or violence.

Keywords: Sexual Assault, Screening Instruments

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, I was the PI on the study being presented and am involved in the implementation, the analysis and interpretation of the the findings
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.