Relationship Between Sexual Dating Violence and Feeling Sad or Hopeless Among High School Students




Thompson, Erika L.


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Purpose: Sexual dating violence among high school students is estimated to be on the rise. Effects of sexual dating violence in teenage years can carry on to adulthood and result in depression and suicidality, but there is a need to examine both conditions during adolescence. The purpose of the study was to assess the relationship between sexual dating violence and feeling sad or hopeless among 9th-12th graders in the U.S. Methods: The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) 2017 is a nationally representative survey of 9-12th graders in the US (N=14,765). The analytic sample size for this study was limited to a complete case analysis (N=8,244). The outcome variable was feeling sad or hopeless in the past 12 months (yes/no). The exposure variable was experience of sexual dating violence in the last 12 months (yes/no). A survey-weighted adjusted logistic regression model estimated the association of sexual dating violence with feeling sad or hopeless while controlling for covariates (age, sex, race/ethnicity and binge drinking), using SAS 9.4. Results: In the sample, 18% reported feeling sad or hopeless and 4% experienced sexual dating violence. Students who experienced sexual dating violence were significantly more likely to feel sad or hopeless while controlling for age, sex, race and binge drinking (OR=4.58, 95% CI 3.63, 5.80). Additionally, females were nearly three times more likely to feel sad or depressed compared to the males (OR=2.98, 95% CI 2.61, 3.41). Conclusions: The findings indicate that there may be an association between sexual dating violence and feeling sad or hopeless when controlling for gender, binge drinking and race among adolescents. Promoting safe, healthy relationships through social-emotional programs for high-schoolers may also promote positive mental health. Next steps would be to examine the association using a longitudinal study design among adolescents.