169707 Patient teenagers: Virginity pledges as a marker for lower sexual activity

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 1:30 PM

Janet E. Rosenbaum, PhD, AM , School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
The US spends $200 million annually on abstinence programs, including virginity pledges. Using data from Add Health waves 1-3, adolescents reporting a wave 2 virginity pledge (n=289) were matched with non-pledgers (n=645) using exact and nearest-neighbor matching on wave 1 factors including pre-pledge religiosity, attitudes towards sex and birth control, and family context. Wave 3 outcomes were compared. Five years post-pledge, 84% of pledgers reported having never taken a pledge; pledgers and matched non-pledgers did not differ in premarital sex, use of birth control and condoms, and sexually transmitted diseases. Pledgers had 0.2 fewer past year partners, but the same number of lifetime sexual partners. The sexual behavior and birth control use of virginity pledgers do not differ from that of comparable non-pledgers. Virginity pledges are not a marker for lower sexual activity.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the presentation, participants will be able to describe the differences in the sexual behavior, STD prevalence, and birth control use, between virginity pledgers and similar non-pledgers five years post-pledge. Participants will also be able to explain how matched sampling can be used in observational data to create comparable comparison groups, and why matched sampling gives more robust control over potential confounding than standard regression methods.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Sexual Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conceived the study idea, analyzed the data, and wrote the paper.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.