Association of Childhood Sexual Abuse Experience and Drunk Driving in US Adults

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Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) lead to high risk behaviors in adults. In 2015, an estimated 700,000 children reported abuse; 8.4% reported experiencing sexual abuse. In 2014, nearly 10,000 people died from alcohol-related motor vehicle injuries, and >1.1 million were arrested for driving under alcohol or narcotic influence. Studies have reported the role of ACEs in alcohol consumption among adults. However, the association between adult drunk driving (DD) and childhood sexual abuse (CSA) has not been investigated. Objective: This study aimed to estimate the association between CSA and DD in US adults. Methods: Data were obtained from 4,374,390 adults who participated in the 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Participants’ self-reported responses were used to define past experience for DD (no/yes) and CSA (no/yes). Covariates included age, sex, race, income, education, marital status and parental substance abuse. Logistic regression models were used to estimate the relative odds of DD among victims of CSA adjusting for covariates. Results: Approximately 3.6% of adults reported DD, and 11.1% adults experienced CSA. Compared to adults who didn’t experience CSA, those who experienced CSA were significantly associated with increased odds of DD behavior (adjusted Odds Ratio (aOR): 1.67, 95% confidence interval (CI):1.27-2.20). Compared to females, males who experienced child sexual abuse were 2.88 times more likely to DD (aOR: 2.88, 95% CI: 2.32-3.59). Conclusion: CSA is significantly associated with DD behavior in adults. Higher estimates of the relationship were identified in males. Future studies, such as prospective cohort studies, are imperative for further evaluation. These findings aided in identifying adults with CSA experience to target and minimize their DD behavior, thus preventing alcohol-related injuries. Public Health Implications: Adults who experienced CSA were associated with increased odds of DD behavior. A multifaceted approach involving several stakeholders at all levels of governance is needed to address this issue. Appropriate public health interventions and/or policies should be developed to prevent sexual abuses during childhood. Health education and promotional campaigns are vital to minimize drunk driving cases by targeting communities and individuals with high risk behaviors.


Atlanta, GA

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