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Talking the talk: How parent communication relates to self-efficacy in adolescents' sexual decision making

Kelly Cleland, MPA, MPH, Claire D. Brindis, DrPH, and Joe Funk, BS. Center for Reproductive Health Research and Policy, University of California, San Francisco, 3333 California Street, Suite 265, San Francisco, CA 94143-0936, 415.502.1176, cleland@itsa.ucsf.edu

Introduction: The California Department of Health Services’ Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program currently funds 170 agencies throughout the state. The goal of the TPP Program is to reduce the number of adolescent pregnancies in communities in California where births to teens exceed the statewide average.

Objective: This study investigates how parental communication about sexual behavior and values is associated with participants’ self-efficacy around making healthy decisions about sexual activity.

Methodology: 2,519 adolescents completed baseline surveys before participating in TPP interventions in 2003-04. Two indices were developed: the Parental Communication Index (5 items including “In the last month, how often did you talk with your parents about your questions about sex?”) and the Self-Efficacy in Sexual Decision-Making Index (6 items including “How sure are you that you could use a condom correctly?”).

Results: Initial results indicate that self-efficacy in sex-related decision making is associated with level of parental communication. Respondents scoring “High” category on the Self-Efficacy in Sexual Decision-Making Index were more likely than those in the “Moderate” or “Low” categories to indicate “High” parental communication (respectively 28%, 22%, and 11%). Commensurately, those scoring “Low” on Self-Efficacy were most likely to report “Low” parental communication than those in the “Moderate” or “High” Self-Efficacy categories (respectively 82%, 61%, and 53%). [p <.01]

Conclusions: Communication between parents and adolescents around sexual behavior and values is associated with a stronger sense that adolescents can make healthy decisions about sex. Programs working with youth should encourage communication with parents as part of a comprehensive strategy to promote healthy behaviors.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Adolescents, Sexual Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Where do Youth Get Reproductive Health Information? Communication to Improve Behavior

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA