Prevention Science

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 726–736 | Cite as

Prevalence of Past-Year Sexual Assault Victimization Among Undergraduate Students: Exploring Differences by and Intersections of Gender Identity, Sexual Identity, and Race/Ethnicity

  • Robert W. S. Coulter
  • Christina Mair
  • Elizabeth Miller
  • John R. Blosnich
  • Derrick D. Matthews
  • Heather L. McCauley
Article

Abstract

A critical step in developing sexual assault prevention and treatment is identifying groups at high risk for sexual assault. We explored the independent and interaction effects of sexual identity, gender identity, and race/ethnicity on past-year sexual assault among college students. From 2011 to 2013, 71,421 undergraduate students from 120 US post-secondary education institutions completed cross-sectional surveys. We fit multilevel logistic regression models to examine differences in past-year sexual assault. Compared to cisgender (i.e., non-transgender) men, cisgender women (adjusted odds ratios [AOR] = 2.47; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.29, 2.68) and transgender people (AOR = 3.93; 95% CI 2.68, 5.76) had higher odds of sexual assault. Among cisgender people, gays/lesbians had higher odds of sexual assault than heterosexuals for men (AOR = 3.50; 95% CI 2.81, 4.35) but not for women (AOR = 1.13; 95% CI 0.87, 1.46). People unsure of their sexual identity had higher odds of sexual assault than heterosexuals, but effects were larger among cisgender men (AOR = 2.92; 95% CI 2.10, 4.08) than cisgender women (AOR = 1.68; 95% CI 1.40, 2.02). Bisexuals had higher odds of sexual assault than heterosexuals with similar magnitude among cisgender men (AOR = 3.19; 95% CI 2.37, 4.27) and women (AOR = 2.31; 95% CI 2.05, 2.60). Among transgender people, Blacks had higher odds of sexual assault than Whites (AOR = 8.26; 95% CI 1.09, 62.82). Predicted probabilities of sexual assault ranged from 2.6 (API cisgender men) to 57.7% (Black transgender people). Epidemiologic research and interventions should consider intersections of gender identity, sexual identity, and race/ethnicity to better tailor sexual assault prevention and treatment for college students.

Keywords

Sexual assault Sexual identity Gender identity Race/ethnicity Undergraduate students 

Notes

Author note

The opinions, findings, and conclusions reported in this article are those of the authors and are in no way meant to represent the opinions, views, or policies of the ACHA, the post-secondary educational institutions included in this study, or the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the US Government. This research article was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health, specifically the National Institute on Drug Abuse (awards F31DA037647 to RWSC), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (K12HD043441 scholar funds to HLM), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (R01AA023260 to EM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (CDA 14-408 to JRB). The American College Health Association (ACHA) administered the data collection process for this study, but does not warrant nor assume any liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information presented in this article. In the current study, the ACHA had no role in the analysis or interpretation of data, writing of the report, or the decision to submit the current manuscript for publication. RWSC conceived of the current study, executed the analyses, and wrote the first draft of the article. All authors substantially contributed to the study design and analyses, interpretation of results, and draft revisions. All authors approved the final manuscript and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the manuscript, including accuracy and integrity. Current study procedures were deemed exempt by the University of Pittsburgh Institutional Review Board. This article has not been presented elsewhere, and the authors have no financial disclosures.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Funding

This research article was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health, specifically the National Institute on Drug Abuse (awards F31DA037647 to RWSC), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (K12HD043441 scholar funds to HLM), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (R01AA023260 to EM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (CDA 14-408 to JRB). The American College Health Association (ACHA) administered the data collection process for this study, but does not warrant nor assume any liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information presented in this article. The opinions, findings, and conclusions reported in this article are those of the authors and are in no way meant to represent the opinions, views, or policies of the ACHA, the post-secondary educational institutions included in this study, or the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the US Government.

Ethical Statement

Each school’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved the original study procedures, and the University of Pittsburgh’s IRB deemed the current secondary analyses as exempt. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert W. S. Coulter
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christina Mair
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Miller
    • 3
  • John R. Blosnich
    • 2
    • 4
  • Derrick D. Matthews
    • 2
    • 5
  • Heather L. McCauley
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Center for LGBT Health Research, Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMCUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburghUSA
  4. 4.Department of Veterans AffairsCenter for Health Equity Research and PromotionPittsburghUSA
  5. 5.Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  6. 6.Department of Human Development and Family Studies, College of Social ScienceMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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