General Anxiety Disorder Symptoms and Alcohol Use Among Female College Students: A Moderated Mediation Model Using Alcohol Coping Motives and a History of Lifetime Sexual Assault
Background: Previous studies have linked sexual assault with drinking behaviors. There are several psychosocial factors that contribute to a woman’s experience during and after a sexual assault. However, there is limited research examining the relationship between women’s sexual assault history, general anxiety disorder symptoms, and the use of alcohol as a form of coping. Examining such psychosocial factors and their unique impact may provide findings that can inform prevention and intervention efforts for young adult college women. Purpose: The current study examined the moderating role that sexual assault history may have on the mediational relationship of drinking coping motives on the relationship between general anxiety disorder (GAD) symptoms and alcohol use. Methods: A sample of 147 young adult female college students, who identified as regular alcohol users, completed an online survey which included measures of GAD symptoms, sexual assault history, alcohol drinking motives and alcohol use days. A series of OLS models tested a moderated mediation model. Results: The hypothesized moderated mediation model was not confirmed by the data. A post-hoc alternative mediation model revealed drinking to cope motives to be a significant mediator of the association between sexual assault history and drinking days. Discussion: Both sexual assault history and drinking to cope motives significantly predicted 30-day alcohol use. Age, relationship status, and sorority status were found to be significantly associated with the variables of interest. Results were discussed in relation to the existing literature and potential implications.