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Risk-taking and adolescent sexual behavior: The interplay between psychosocial factors and socio-environmental influence

Lynn A. Agre, MPH and Robert J. Reid, PhD. School of Social Work, Rutgers University, 640 Bartholomew Road - RUTCOR Modular Building, Piscataway, NJ 08854, 732-445-3079, agre@rci.rutgers.edu

With the rise in STD transmission rates and teen pregnancy, the propensity toward early initiation of sexual behavior coupled with alcohol and licit/illicit drug use has generated concern about the welfare of our youth and later-life outcomes associated with these social health problems. Previous research has demonstrated that sociodemographic characteristics including race, gender, income and low income neighborhoods predispose adolescents at an early age to initiate sexual behavior. However, these characteristics only explain a portion of the variance associated with these risk profiles. Based on the Bronfrenbrenner Ecological Framework and using the 1998 National Longitudinal on Youth Young Adult Survey, this study will examine psychosocial and environmental factors among youth ages 15 to 23 years at the individual and familial level that predispose teens to self-identify as high versus low risk. The independent variables of self-esteem, mastery, depressive symptoms, parental monitoring, parent-child quality, peer influence and neighborhood quality will be regressed on a self-rated risk index, as the dependent variable. The predictor scores from the first regression equation, i.e. self-rated risk adverse as opposed to risk prone, based on the psychosocial and environmental factors, will then be used in the second regression equation to determine who will be more likely to engage in sexual behavior in conjunction with alcohol and licit/illicit drugs. Subsequently, risk profiles will be developed that predict likelihood of combined sexual initiation and alcohol and drug use, using Kaplan-Meir Product Limit estimates as compared to other classification methods such as Logical Analysis of Data.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Adolescent Health, 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.

Reproductive Health of Young People: U.S. and International Viewpoints

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