The proposed investigation seeks to examine the relationship between alcohol consumption patterns and sexuality among male and female emerging adults (ages 18-29) in New York City (NYC). We will undertake a longitudinal, prospective, mixed methods study, guided by the following three aims: (1) Test a new theoretical model, Conflict-Motivation Theory (CMT), which focuses on the role of sexual conflict in predicting risk-taking among emerging adults in the context of alcohol use. (2) Examine the role of developmental and individual (e.g. neurocognitive maturation, decision-making ability), social (e.g. social norms, attitudes, personal beliefs and values), and contextual (e.g. partner characteristics, alcohol dose, and setting) factors in shaping both sexual conflict and the associations among conflict, alcohol consumption, and risk-taking outlined in CMT. (3) Examine and identify the specific roles of gender (including gender roles, and sexual double standards), sexual orientation (including sexual identity and internalized homophobia), and race/ethnicity in shaping both sexual conflict and the associations among conflict, alcohol consumption, and risk-taking outlined in CMT. To achieve these aims, we will recruit and enroll 400 emerging adults into our study (stratified by gender, sexual orientation, and race/ethnicity) using Respondent Driven Sampling and conduct assessments of conflict, alcohol consumption patterns, and sexual risk-taking behaviors three times over the course of two years. Data analyses will utilize structural equation modeling, path analyses, and univariate and multivariate growth curve modeling to determine the relationships between these factors as a means of understanding the relationship between alcohol and sexuality and of evaluating the use of CMT to explain this relationship. Quantitative assessments (administered via Audio-CASI) will be complemented by our use of qualitative techniques to provide us with episode-specific data to help realize the relationships that we are assessing as well as to further understand contextual aspects of the relationship (e.g., reasons for combining alcohol and sexual activity, social contexts of drinking and sexual activity, etc.). Mixed-methods strategies will be used to examine the qualitative and quantitative data together in order to further test the proposed theoretical framework (CMT) and to better understand and explicate potential implications for intervention development.
The findings of this study will facilitate a more nuanced understanding of the reciprocal relationship between alcohol consumption patterns and sexuality, which will, in turn, inform prevention and intervention efforts. Specifically, the findings will inform preventions, interventions, and treatments designed to decrease alcohol use, abuse, and the problems associated with alcohol consumption and also inform efforts to decrease risky sex practices, alcohol-related sexual victimization, and the negative consequences often associated with combining alcohol and sexual activity.
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