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Patterns of Alcohol Use and Expectancies Predict Sexual Risk Taking Among Non–Problem Drinking Women

Cynthia A. Stappenbeck, Jeanette Norris, Preston A. Kiekel, Diane M. Morrison, William H. George, Kelly Cue Davis, Tina Zawacki, Angela J. Jacques-Tiura, Devon Alisa Abdallah

Objective: Although alcohol consumption and sexual risk taking are associated, not everyone who drinks alcohol engages in risky sexual behavior. The purposes of the present study were to identify patterns of alcohol use behaviors and alcohol expectancies among women who are non–problem drinkers and to examine how these patterns are associated with indices of sexual risk. Method: Data from 758 non–problem drinking women who have sex with men and were not in committed relationships were analyzed using latent profile analysis to determine patterns of alcohol use and alcohol-related expectancies. Results: Of the four patterns observed, three classes had similar alcohol-related expectancies but differed with respect to drinking behavior (moderate drinking, regular heavy episodes, and frequent heavy episodes), and the fourth class consisted of moderate drinkers with low expectancies (low expectancies). Results revealed that those in the frequent heavy episodes class had the greatest number of sexual partners in the past year and drank the most alcohol before having sex compared with the other women. Both the regular and frequent heavy episodes classes reported greater likelihood of having unprotected sex in the future, more positive beliefs about casual sex, and greater subjective intoxication before having sex than women in the moderate drinking or low expectancies classes. Women in the low expectancies class reported less positive beliefs about condoms than those in the moderate drinking and regular heavy episodes classes. Conclusions: Results suggest that different patterns of expectancies and drinking behaviors are associated with different indices of sexual risk taking and highlight the importance of individually tailored programs for prevention of sexually transmitted infections. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 74, 223–232, 2013)