Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

17161 Intimate Partner Violence and Substance Use Among African American MSM Couples

Sunday, January 15, 2012: 11:45 AM
Penn Quarter A (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Elwin Wu, PhD, Assistant Professor, Columbia University, New York, NY
Nabila El-Bassel, DSW, Professor, Columbia University, New York, NY
Louisa Gilbert, PhD, Co-Director, Columbia University, New York, NY
Leona Hess, MSW, Project Director, Columbia University, New, NY
Mark V. Fopeano, MSW, Research Assistant, Columbia University, New York, NY
BACKGROUND & PURPOSE: Research on intimate partner violence (IPV) generally supports that it is as prevalent and serious a problem among men who have sex with men (MSM) as it is among women in same-sex and/or heterosexual relationships. Compared to the abundance of research on heterosexual IPV that demonstrates a strong link between substance use and IPV, the empirical knowledge base regarding substance use and IPV among MSM is scant (i.e., two articles using subsets of the same data). Furthermore, no published studies on IPV specifically focused on African American MSM in their current longer-term, same-sex relationship.

METHODS: This is a secondary analysis of data from CDC-funded a pilot study on substance use and sexual risk among African American MSM in longer-term, same sex relationships (N=74). Substance use data were collected using the NIDA Risk Behavior Assessment. IPV was assessed using the Revised Conflict Tactics Scales and focused on the participant's current primary partner. Hypotheses focused on the association between use of various substances—entered individually in separate logistic regression models that also controlled for sociodemographic and relationship characteristics—and IPV.

RESULTS: The average age of study participants was 41.8 years (SD=8.4). The mean primary relationship duration was 1.9 years (SD=3.5). Almost all participants (n=72, 97%) reported some history of illicit drug use, involving the following substances in decreasing order of prevalence: marijuana (n=66, 90%), methamphetamine (n=57, 77%), powder cocaine (n=47, 64%), crack cocaine (n=42, 0%), and heroin (n=10, 14%). In addition, binge drinking was reported by 47 (65%) participants. About one-third (n=26, 36%) of the participants reported a history of experiencing IPV from their current partner. A history of perpetrating IPV against their current partner was reported by 26 (36%) participants. Reporting both experiencing and perpetrating IPV was reported by 24 (32%) participants, while 2 (3%) participants report only experiencing IPV and a different 2 (3%) participants reported only perpetrating IPV. While controlling for sociodemographics and relationship characteristics, a history of experiencing IPV ever was significantly associated with a participant's history of binge drinking (adjusted OR=3.4, p=.05), use of crack cocaine (adjusted OR=3.7, p = .04), and use of methamphetamine (adjusted OR=9.7, p=.02). Parallel analyses for a history of perpetrating IPV revealed a significant association with a participant's binge drinking (adjusted OR=5.2, p=.02), use of crack cocaine (adjusted OR=3.7, p=.04), and use of methamphetamine (adjusted OR=22.9, p=.01).

CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS: Rates of IPV among participants in this sample are roughly comparable to those reported in the literature. However, those studies generally report lifetime rates across all partners, whereas this study reported rates with current partners, altogether suggesting that lifetime rates are very likely to be higher among African American MSM in longer-term relationships. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that IPV and substance use--particularly binge drinking, crack, and methamphetamine--are overlapping problems and need to be addressed to enhance the well-being of African American MSM couples.

<< Previous Abstract | Next Abstract