The Associations between Area of Residence, Sexual Violence Victimization, and Asthma Episodes among US Adult Women in 14 States and Territories, 2005-2007

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Gaps in understanding of how area-based differences in exposure to violence are associated with asthma prevalence may limit the development of effective prevention programs and the identification of risk for asthma episodes. The current investigation examines the associations between sexual violence victimization and asthma episodes among US adult women across three different metropolitan settings. The association between sexual assault victimizations and asthma attacks in the past year was examined using data from the 2005, 2006, and 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys. Cross-sectional analyses were based on adult women with current asthma (n = 4,099). Multivariate logistic regression models were used to identify associations between four categories of sexual violence victimization and asthma episodes across three categories of metropolitan and non-metropolitan settings. Our findings show that unwanted touching, attempted unwanted intercourse, forced unwanted intercourse, and any sexual violence victimization (touching, attempted intercourse, or forced intercourse) were significantly associated with asthma episodes (OR(adj.) = 3.67, 95% CI, 1.76-7.69; OR(adj.) = 1.77, 95% CI, 1.32-2.37; OR(adj.) = 2.24, 95% CI, 1.64-3.05, and OR(adj.) = 1.93, 95% CI, 1.47-2.53, respectively). While no significant differences in the associations between asthma episodes and metropolitan status were found, a significant interaction between non-metropolitan areas and attempted sexual intercourse was identified (OR(adj) = 0.53, 95% CI, 0.29-0.96). Sexual victimization appears to be an important, but understudied, correlate of asthma morbidity among adult women in the USA, suggesting that additional research is needed to better understand the associations between sexual violence, psychological distress, and asthma.


Originally published in the Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine vol. 86 iss. 2 2009.

DOI: 10.1007/s11524-008-9340-5

© 2008 The New York Academy of Medicine.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.