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SHCs reduce barriers to health care faced by adolescents, such as concerns about confidentiality, lack of health insurance, and limited knowledge of the health care system.The purpose of this study was to examine characteristics of cyber dating abuse and how such abuse may be associated with other forms of ARA, nonpartner sexual violence victimization, and sexual and reproductive health risks among youth seeking care in SHCs.Recent research has shown that cyber dating abuse and other forms of ARA frequently overlap.Using a 3-state school-based sample of adolescents, Zweig and colleagues found that 26% of adolescents in dating relationships experienced cyber dating abuse and that cyber dating abuse was highly correlated with experiencing physical dating violence, psychological dating abuse, and sexual coercion.The associations of cyber dating abuse with sexual behavior and pregnancy risk behaviors suggest a need to integrate ARA education and harm reduction counseling into sexual health assessments in clinical settings.
Compared with no exposure, low- (“a few times”) and high-frequency (“once or twice a month” or more) cyber dating abuse were significantly associated with physical or sexual ARA (low: adjusted odds ratio [a OR] 2.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.8–4.4; high: a OR 5.4, 95% CI 4.0–7.5) and nonpartner sexual assault (low: a OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.3–5.5; high: a OR 4.1, 95% CI 2.8–5.9).
Study procedures were approved by institutional review boards at Public Health Institute and the University of Pittsburgh and were reviewed by administrators at respective schools and SHCs. Single items assessed demographic characteristics, including gender, age, race, US nativity, relationship status, and sexual orientation.
Dating partners were defined as persons the respondent reported “dating, going out with, or hooking up with.” All exposures and outcomes were assessed by using a referent time period of the past 3 months.
Understanding the prevalence and correlates of cyber dating abuse in this clinic-based sample may guide prevention and intervention efforts to reduce such abuse and improve adolescent health.
Data are from a cross-sectional survey that served as baseline data for a cluster-randomized trial in SHCs to promote healthy relationships and reduce ARA (Clinical Trials.gov, identifier NCT01678378).
The study enrolled 1011 eligible students (771 female and 240 male students, 95% participation rate).