198813 It is not about whether they are at risk: Examining communication between mothers and 9-15 year old daughters about sex

Monday, November 9, 2009

Natoshia M. Askelson, MPH, PhD , Department of Community and Behavioral Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Shelly Campo, PhD , Community and Behavioral Health, University of Iowa, College of Public Health, Iowa City, IA
Sandi Smith, PhD , Department of Communication, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Parent-child communication about sex has been shown to delay sexual activity and increase contraceptive and condom use. The influence of parenting style and mother's assessment of their daughters' risk on communication about sex was examined in this study. A random sample of mothers with daughters age 9-15 were mailed surveys asking about communication regarding 11 sex related topics (e. g. menstruation, contraceptives, dating) with their daughters. Mothers (N = 283) were asked if they had talked to their daughters about sex, and, if so, at what age of their daughter they had started talking Most mothers reported having discussed menstruation (80.9%) and alcohol (78.0%), while contraceptives (30.4%) and condom use (30.0%) were talked about least. The mean number of topics discussed was 5.78 (SD = 3.84). Multivariate linear regression was used to assess the influence of parenting style, daughter's age, income, education, and mother's perceptions of risk on the topics mothers discussed and at what ages of their daughters mothers reported being willing to discuss topics. Parenting style influenced the number of topics mothers talked about. Mothers who reported being more authoritative were willing to talk about sexual intercourse HIV/AIDS, STIs, alcohol, abstinence condom use, menstruation, dating/relationships, sexual orientation, and contraceptives at an earlier age than mothers who were not authoritative. Daughter's age was influential in every case, while mothers' perceptions of risk were not a significant influencer of communication. This research points to the importance of parenting style in determining certain parent-child communication about sexual and other risk behaviors.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the importance of risk perception and parenting style in determining mother-daughter communication about sex. Explain how parenting style should be considered when designing messages to encourage mother-daughter communication about sex.

Keywords: Communication, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a researcher in adolescent health and health communication. I have an MPH and PhD
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.