College women report high rates of sexual assault (SA). Research focused on women’s risk factors for SA remains necessary to assist women in reducing their risk. Previous work has shown alcohol and cannabis use to be associated with SA. The current study examined whether individual difference variables moderated women’s risk for SA during occasions of alcohol and cannabis use using ecological momentary assessment (EMA).
Participants were 18-24-year-old first-year undergraduate women (N=101), who were unmarried and interested in dating men, consumed three or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion in the month before baseline, and engaged in sexual intercourse at least once. Baseline individual difference variables included sex-related alcohol expectancies, alcohol problems, decision skills, and sexual attitudes. EMA reports, collected three times per day over 42 days, included items regarding alcohol and cannabis use and SA experiences.
Among women who experienced SA during the EMA period (n=40), those with higher sexual risk expectancies had a higher probability of SA during occasions when they were using alcohol or cannabis.
Several modifiable risk factors for SA and individual differences factors may exacerbate risk. Ecological momentary interventions may be useful to reduce SA risk for women with high sexual risk expectancies who use alcohol or cannabis.
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