Adolescent sexual debut and psychological/physical symptoms: do associations vary across Western nations?

Aubrey L. Spriggs, Tulane School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine
Tilda Farhat, Eunice Kennedy Schriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), NIH
Carolyn Tucker Halpern, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, National University of Ireland

Although sexual intercourse initiation during adolescence is statistically normative across many nations, in the United States, adolescent sexual activity typically is framed as a problem behavior associated negatively with adolescent health. Western countries vary widely in adolescent pregnancy and STI rates, despite similar levels of adolescent sexual activity; therefore, the relationship between adolescent sexual activity and other outcomes may also vary across nations. This analysis will test the cultural specificity of adolescent sexual intercourse as a problem behavior associated with maladjustment. Data from 15-year-old participants in the 1997/98 Health Behavior in School-Aged Children survey (Finland, France, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Northern Ireland, Poland and Scotland) and the 1995/96 U.S. Add Health survey will be combined. Cross-national consistencies in associations between adolescent sexual initiation (ever had sexual intercourse) and physical and psychological symptoms will be examined using bivariate analyses and multivariable models adjusted for family structure and socioeconomic status.

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Presented in Poster Session 1: Reproductive health, HIV-AIDS, poverty and gender