Title

Effects of self-injurious thoughts and behaviors and sexual risk-taking behaviors through emotional control

Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

4-15-2019

Abstract

Background: College students are at increased risk for self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITB) and sexual risk behaviors (SRB). Although students with a history of SITB appear to be more prone to SRB, the mechanisms linking these risk behaviors remain largely unexplored. Previous research points to emotional control (EC), defined as one's awareness and adaptability of emotions, as a potential mechanism explaining the relationship between SITB and SRB.1 Methods: Data included 722 college students attending two different universities in the northeast and southeast regions of the United States. Multiple group structural equation models were fit to estimate the direct and indirect effects of history of SITB (suicidal ideation, attempt, and nonsuicidal self-injury) and EC on SRB jointly across men and women. Results: Findings supported indirect relationships between SITB and SRB through dysregulated EC, with type of SITB and patterns of SRB differing between men and women. For women, history of suicidal ideation and nonsuicidal self-injury were indirectly related to increased SRB through dysregulated EC. For men, history of suicidal ideation showed an indirect relationship on SRB through EC. Limitations: Although this study employed random sampling, limitations include a cross-sectional design, which does not allow for causal inference, and reliance on self-report assessment data. Conclusions: College students with a history of SITB who experience dysregulated EC may be more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. Clinicians working with college students should concomitantly consider suicide and self-injury with SRB and consider interventions to improve EC.

Publication Title

Journal of Affective Disorders

Volume

249

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