Association of Sexual Abuse and Exposure to Parental Substance Abuse Behavior During Childhood with Drunk Driving in US Adults

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Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) lead to high risk behaviors in adults. Annually, around 10,000 people die from alcohol-related motor vehicle injuries, and >1.1 million arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. An estimated 700,000 children reported abuse each year; 8.4% reported experiencing sexual abuse. Studies have reported the role of ACEs in alcohol consumption during adulthood. Additionally, evidence exists about the influence of parental substance abuse behaviors on addiction to alcohol and other substances of abuse. However, the association of adult drunk driving with childhood sexual abuse, and /or exposure to parental substance abuse behaviors has not been investigated. Objective: This study aimed to estimate the association of sexual abuse and/or parental substance abuse behaviors during childhood 2017 Appalachian Student Research Forum Page 57with drunk driving 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 study outcome- drunk driving (no/yes) and study exposure- childhood sexual abuse (no/yes) and parental substance abuse behavior (no/yes). Covariates included age, sex, race, income, education, and marital status. Simple and multivariable logistic regression models were used to assess the relative odds of drunk driving among US adults who reported sexual abuse and/or exposure to parental substance behaviors during childhood. Interaction models were conducted to test for joint effects of study exposures on the outcome. Results: Approximately 3.6% of adults reported DD, 10.55% reported exposure to parental substance abuse behavior, and 11.1% adults reported childhood sexual abuse. Compared to adults who didn't experience sexual abuse during childhood, those who experienced were significantly associated with increased odds of drunk driving behavior (adjusted Odds Ratio (aOR): 1.67, 95% confidence interval (CI):1.27-2.20). Adults who reported exposure to parental substance abuse behavior were found to be associated with increased odds of drunk driving behavior (aOR:1.30, 95%CI:1.00-1.68) compared to unexposed adults. Conclusion: Adults who were sexually abused during childhood and had exposures to parental substance abuse behaviors were associated with increased relative odds of drunk driving. The study findings help public health professionals identify targeted high risk groups for interventions. Appropriate public health interventions and/or policies should be developed to prevent sexual abuse and exposure to parental substance abuse during childhood. Health education and promotional campaigns are vital to minimize drunk driving cases by targeting communities and individuals with high risk behaviors.


Johnson City, TN

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