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Mental Health


Full Article Title: Pornography: A Concealed Behavior with Serious Consequences

Open Access: Yes


OBJECTIVES: The purpose of the current study was to estimate prevalence of pornography use and addiction in Rhode Island young adults, identify sociodemographic disparities, and determine if use and addiction were associated with mental illness.

METHODS: Data from n=1022 participants of the Rhode Island Young Adult Survey were used. Pornography use and addiction, depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation were assessed. Multivariable logistic regressions controlled for age, social status, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and race/ethnicity.

RESULTS: 54% indicated pornography use; 6.2% met the criteria for addiction. Odds of pornography use were 5 times higher (95%CI=3.18,7.71), and addiction 13.4 times higher (95%CI=5.71,31.4) among heterosexual cis-males. Pornography addiction was associated with increased odds of depression (OR=1.92, 95%CI=1.04,3.49) and suicide ideation (OR=2.34,  95%CI=1.24,4.43).

CONCLUSIONS: Pornography use is highly prevalent, and addiction may be associated with mental illness. New screenings, media literacy training, and developing new therapeutic interventions should be considered.



“Approximately half of Rhode Island’s young adults in this sample viewed pornography and 1 in 16 met the criteria for pornography addiction. Use and addiction were particularly high among heterosexual cis-males and individuals who identify as a sexual or gender minority (SGM). Pornography use may also be higher in individuals identifying as Asian, more than 1 race, or Other. Of particular concern, pornography addiction was associated with depression and suicide ideation…The link between pornography addiction and poor mental health is alarming.”



Noel, J.K., Jacob, S., Swanberg, J. E., & Rosenthal, S. R. (2023). Pornography: A concealed behavior with serious consequences. Rhode Island Medical Journal, 106(3), 29-34.