Adult Sexual Assault as a Moderator Between Religiosity and Sexual Risk Taking Among College Women
Tran, Jana K. 1982-
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Sexual risk taking among college women is a major public health concern, as it leads to negative health consequences, such as sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2010; Finer & Henshaw, 2006). Policy makers have become increasingly interested in collaborating with religious organizations to create faith-based education efforts to address these sexual health problems (Whitehead & Ooms, 1999). Religious teachings often endorse restrictive sexual scripts that exert social control on sexual behavior (Rotosky et al., 2003). However, findings regarding the relation of religiosity to sexual risk taking have been mixed within the college student population. One potential moderator that may help explain these inconsistencies is adult sexual assault (ASA), which has consistently been associated with increased engagement in sexual risk tasking. The purpose of the current study was to use archival data to examine ASA as a moderator of the relation of religiosity to sexual risk taking among college women, while controlling for social desirability bias and race. Participants included 181 undergraduate women, with ages ranging from 18 to 44 years (M = 22.22, SD = 4.53). Regarding racial identification, 28.7% were European American/White, 20.4% were African American/Black, 20.4% were Asian American/Asian, 19.3% were Latino-a/Hispanic, 5.0% were bi-racial or multi-racial, and 6.1% reported “Other.” Regarding religious affiliation, 37.6% were Catholic, 34.3% were Protestant, 8.4% reported other religious affiliations, 10.5% reported being Agnostic, and 4.4% reported being Atheist. A questionnaire collected a range of relevant demographic information, the Religious Commitment Inventory–10 (Worthington et al., 2003) measured religious commitment, the Sexual Experiences Survey - Short Form Victimization (Koss et al., 2007) measured ASA, and the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale (Crowne & Marlowe, 1960) measured social desirability. As a preliminary analysis, MANOVAs were conducted to examine group differences on the dependent variables across socioeconomic status, marital status, dating status, and sexual orientation, the bivariate correlations of the variables were calculated, and an assessment of multicolinearity was performed. The current study examined three main research questions: 1) to what extent religiosity is associated with the two sexual risk taking variables (i.e., sexual risk taking with uncommitted partners and risky sex acts), 2) to what extent ASA is associated with the two sexual risk taking variables, and 3) whether ASA moderates the relationship between religiosity and the two sexual risk taking variables. Two separate hierarchical regression analyses were run and revealed that, after controlling for social desirability, race, and dating status, religiosity, adult sexual assault, and the interaction effect did not contribute a significant amount of unique variance to engagement in sexual risk taking with uncommitted partners. Asian American/Asian and Latino-a/Hispanic race contributed a significant amount of unique variance to this criterion. Results also indicated that dating status and adult sexual assault contributed unique variance to engagement in risky sex acts. Religiosity and the interaction between religiosity and adult sexual assault did not contribute unique variance to this criterion. Implications of the findings regarding the relation of religiosity, adult sexual assault, and sexual risk taking among college women are discussed.