Attention deficit hyperactivity symptoms and risky sexual behavior in young adult women

G. M.Monawar Hosain, Abbey B. Berenson, Howard Tennen, Lance O. Bauer, Z. Helen Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Background: This study was undertaken to assess the association between adult attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and high-risk sexual behavior. Methods: This cross-sectional study interviewed 462 low-income women aged 18-30 years. We used the 18-item Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS-v1.1) Symptom Checklist to assess ADHD symptoms. Risky sexual behaviors included sex before 15 years of age, risky sex partners in lifetime, number of sex partners in the last 12 months, condom use in the last 12 months, alcohol use before sex in the last 12 months, traded sex in lifetime, and diagnosed with sexually transmitted infection (STI) in lifetime. Results: Mean ADHD symptom score was 19.8 (SD±12.9), and summary index of all risky sexual behavior was 1.77 (SD±1.37). Using unadjusted odds ratios (OR), women who endorsed more ADHD symptoms reported engaging in more risky sexual behaviors of all types. However, when multivariable logistic regression was applied adjusting for various sociodemographic covariates, the adjusted ORs remained significant for having risky sex partners and having ≥3 sex partners in the prior 12 months. We observed some differences in risky sexual behavior between two domains of ADHD. Conclusions: The ADHD symptom score appears to be associated with some risky sexual behaviors and deserves further attention. A brief ADHD screening can identify this high-risk group for timely evaluation and safe sex counseling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-468
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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