"These findings are very concerning; although college women appear to have knowledge about date-rape drugs, they often are not able to apply this knowledge in the appropriate context," Zachary Birchmeier of the University of Missouri Truman School of Public Affairs said in a statement.
The study, conducted at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, of more than 400 female undergraduates rated their perceptions of risk after reading a short story about an acquaintance rape.
The study, published in the Journal of American College Health, found that college students identified the risk associated with having others pour their drinks; however, they did not recognize the risk of leaving their drinks unattended. A significant number of study participants blamed the victim when sexual assault occurred.
Additionally, the majority of participants who were victims of previous sexual assault reported that they would make risky choices, including accepting a male acquaintance's offer to help them into their bedroom.
The findings suggest that many incidents of drugging may be unreported or unsuspected," said Emily Crawford, postdoctoral resident in behavioral health at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital.
U.S. Department of Justice officials report that 1 in 5 college women will be the victim of attempted or actual sexual assault during their college years.