Background/introduction Associations between substance use and sexual risk among general populations of women may be helpful in the development of a sexual risk assessment tool for community health settings.
Aim(s)/objectives To review the evidence for whether smoking, alcohol and drug use variables are associated with reporting of unprotected sexual intercourse, multiple partnerships, STI diagnoses and unplanned pregnancy in women aged 16–44 years.
Methods Seven electronic databases were searched for probability population surveys published between 31/1/1994 and 31/1/2014 that reported on at least one of the outcomes above. Studies were included on women aged 16–44 years in the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, USA or Canada. An independent reviewer screened 10% of title and abstract exclusions and all full-text papers.
Results Three papers were identified. Current smoking was associated with unplanned pregnancy in the last year (Wellings 2013) and with current non-use of contraception among women (Xaverius 2009). Reporting ever smoking daily was also associated with reporting larger numbers of lifetime sexual partners (Cavazos-Rehg, 2011). Drug use in the last year (excepting cannabis) was associated with unplanned pregnancy (Wellings 2013). Cavazos-Rehg, 2011 found a dose response between lifetime partner numbers and heaviness of marijuana and alcohol use. Conversely Xaverius, 2009 found alcohol use was lower among those reporting current non-use of contraception.
Discussion/conclusion No clear direction emerged for the association with alcohol use, in contrast to drug use and smoking. Further research is needed to establish if alcohol has utility in a women’s sexual risk assessment tool for community use.
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