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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 95, Issue 6, pp 441–445 | Cite as

Rising Incidence of Hospital-reported Drug-facilitated Sexual Assault in a Large Urban Community in Canada

Retrospective Population-based Study
  • Margaret J. McGregor
  • Janet Ericksen
  • Lisa A. Ronald
  • Patricia A. Janssen
  • Anneke Van Vliet
  • Michael Schulzer
Article

Abstract

Background

Drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA) occurs when an individual has been sexually assaulted due to the surreptitious administration of drug(s) thereby rendering her/him unable to give consent. Our study aim was to calculate the age- and sex-specific annual incidence of hospital-reported DFSA and to determine whether a one-year increase in DFSA observed in 1999 in a pilot study on the same population was a significant and sustained trend.

Methods

We identified cases of DFSA by reviewing the sexual assault examination records of all the individuals who presented to a hospital-based sexual assault care referral service in Vancouver, British Columbia during the study time period (January 1, 1993 to May 31, 2002). The annual sex- and age-specific incidence and temporal trends of drug-facilitated sexual assault were examined using population data from the British Columbia Ministry of Health.

Results

The mean annual incidence of female DFSA increased from 3.4 per 100,000 (years 1993–1998) to 10.7 per 100,000 (years 1999–2002). Age-adjusted relative risks for female DFSAs were significantly higher in 1999 (2.77, 95% CI 1.85–4.15), 2000 (3.01, 95% CI 1.97–4.57), 2001 (3.14, 95% CI 2.07–4.78) and 2002 (4.88, 95% CI 2.84–8.37) compared to 1993–1998. Women aged 15–19 years had the highest DFSA incidence, with a year-adjusted relative risk of 3.89 (95% CI 2.75–5.50) compared to all other age groups.

Conclusion

This study demonstrates that the incidence of hospital-reported DFSA has shown a marked and sustained increase since 1999. Young women in their teens are particularly vulnerable to this form of sexual assault and further efforts are needed to develop and evaluate prevention programs for this group.

Résumé

Contexte

On parle d’agression sexuelle facilitée par la drogue (ASFD) lorsqu’une personne est agressée sexuellement après avoir absorbé à son insu une ou plusieurs drogues qui l’ont rendue incapable de donner son consentement. Nous avons calculé l’incidence annuelle des ASFD signalées aux hôpitaux selon l’âge et le sexe de la victime afin de déterminer si une hausse sur un an observée en 1999 dans le cadre d’une étude pilote dans la même population s’inscrit dans une tendance significative et soutenue.

Méthode

Nous avons relevé les cas d’ASFD en examinant les dossiers d’agressions sexuelles de toutes les personnes qui se sont présentées à un service hospitalier d’aiguillage des victimes d’agressions sexuelles situé à Vancouver (Colombie-Britannique) durant la période à l’étude (1er janvier 1993–31 mai 2002). Nous avons examiné les tendances des agressions sexuelles facilitées par la drogue, selon l’âge et le sexe, en fréquence et dans le temps, d’après les données démographiques du ministère de la Santé de la Colombie-Britannique.

Résultats

L’incidence annuelle moyenne des ASFD chez les femmes a augmenté, passant de 3,4 pour 100 000 (1993–1998) à 10,7 pour 100 000 (1999–2002). Le risque relatif d’ASFD rajusté selon l’âge, chez les femmes, était sensiblement plus élevé en 1999 (2,77, IC de 95 %= 1,85–4,15), en 2000 (3,01, IC de 95 %=1,97–4,57), en 2001 (3,14, IC de 95 %=2,07–4,78) et en 2002 (4,88, IC de 95 %=2,84–8,37) que durant la période 1993–1998. Les femmes de 15 à 19 ans présentaient la plus forte incidence d’ASFD, avec un risque relatif ajusté de 3,89 par année (IC de 95 %=2,75–5,50), par rapport à tous les autres groupes d’âge.

Conclusion

Cette étude montre que l’incidence des ASFD signalées aux hôpitaux présente une hausse marquée et soutenue depuis 1999. Les adolescentes étant particulièrement vulnérables à cette forme d’agression sexuelle, il faudrait faire plus d’efforts pour élaborer et évaluer des programmes de prévention à leur intention.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret J. McGregor
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
    • 4
  • Janet Ericksen
    • 2
    • 6
  • Lisa A. Ronald
    • 2
  • Patricia A. Janssen
    • 3
  • Anneke Van Vliet
    • 2
  • Michael Schulzer
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Family PracticeUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Sexual Assault ServiceBC Women’s Hospital and Health CentreCanada
  3. 3.Department of Health Care and EpidemiologyUniversity of British ColumbiaCanada
  4. 4.Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and EvaluationVancouver Hospital and Health Sciences CentreCanada
  5. 5.Mid-Main Community Health CentreVancouverCanada
  6. 6.School of NursingUniversity of British ColumbiaCanada

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