Journal Article

The Effects of Sexual Orientation on the Relationship Between Victimization Experiences and Smoking Status Among US Women

Alicia K Matthews, Young Ik Cho, Tonda L Hughes, Sharon C Wilsnack, Frances Aranda and Timothy Johnson

in Nicotine and Tobacco Research

Volume 20, issue 3, pages 332-339
Published in print February 2018 | ISSN: 1462-2203
Published online March 2017 | e-ISSN: 1469-994X | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntx052
The Effects of Sexual Orientation on the Relationship Between Victimization Experiences and Smoking Status Among US Women

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Abstract

Introduction

This study examined the relationships between experiences of childhood and adulthood victimization and current smoking among heterosexual and sexual minority women. The main hypothesis was that victimization experiences would predict current smoking status. Further, we hypothesized that the effect of childhood victimization on self-reported smoker status would be mediated by adult victimization.

Methods

Data are from two studies conducted in the United States that used similar methods and questionnaires in order to conduct a comparative analysis of women based on sexual orientation. Data from Wave 1 (2000–2001) of the Chicago Health and Life Experiences of Women (CHLEW) study and from Wave 5 (2001) of the National Study of Health and Life Experiences of Women (NSHLEW) study were used in these analyses.

Results

Twenty-eight percent of the sample reported current smoking. Victimization experiences were common, with 63.4% of participants reporting at least one type of victimization in childhood and 40.2% reporting at least one type in adulthood. Women who identified as heterosexual were less likely to be victimized during childhood than were women who identified as lesbian or bisexual. Adult victimization had a significant effect on current smoker status, and the effect of childhood victimization on smoker status was mediated by adult victimization. When examined by sexual orientation, this indirect relationship remained significant only among bisexual women in the sample.

Conclusions

Study findings make a valuable contribution to the literature on victimization and health risk behaviors such as smoking. Given the negative and long-term impact of victimization on women, strategies are needed that reduce the likelihood of victimization and subsequent engagement in health risk behaviors such as smoking.

Implications

The study findings make a valuable contribution to the literature on sexual minority women’s health on the influence of victimization on health risk behaviors. With the goal of reducing the likelihood of adult victimization and subsequent engagement in health risk behaviors, programs and policies aimed at preventing victimization of women are warranted. Providers and community health agencies should assess and target physically and sexually abused sexual minority youth for mental health intervention with the goal of interrupting the progression from childhood victimization to adult victimization and subsequent engagement in health risk behaviors.

Journal Article.  6069 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology ; Addictions and Substance Misuse

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