The role of social drinking factors in the relationship between incapacitated sexual assault and drinking before sexual activity

Elizabeth R. Bird, Amanda K. Gilmore, William H. George, Melissa A. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


White House Council on Women and Girls (2014) highlighted sexual assault prevention as a high priority issue in need of immediate attention. A risk factor associated with sexual assault victimization and revictimization is drinking before sexual activity. The current study examined the relationship between incapacitated sexual assault (ISA) and drinking before sexual activity. Given the typical social context of both drinking before sexual activity and sexual assault in college settings, social-related drinking factors including drinking to conform motives, social drinking motives, and perceived drinking norms were examined. Six hundred and three undergraduate college women completed a survey online assessing history of ISA, social factors associated with drinking, and frequency of drinking before sexual activity. Path analysis indicated that both ISA before college and since entering college were associated with higher perceived drinking norms, more social drinking motive endorsement, and more drinking to conform. However, only higher perceived drinking norms and more social drinking motive endorsement were associated with both more severe ISA histories and more frequent drinking before sexual activity. Thus, a more severe ISA history was indeed associated with more frequent drinking before sexual activity and social factors related to drinking played a significant role in this relationship. Social factors can be easily targeted through brief interventions and these findings can inform future programming to promote more careful use of alcohol in social and sexual situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-33
Number of pages6
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016



  • Alcohol use
  • Drinking motives
  • Drinking norms
  • Incapacitated sexual assault
  • Sexual activity

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