202612 Findings from a National Survey of Adolescents and Their Parents

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deborah K. Walker, EdD , Domestic Health Division, Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA
Lauren Olsho, PhD , Health Division, Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA
Jessica Cohen, MS MPH , Health Division, Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA
Gretchen Locke, MA , Health Division, Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA
The Administration for Children and Families (DHHS) funded a survey to examine current attitudes of adolescents and their parents regarding abstinence knowledge and attitudes. Abt Associates conducted this public opinion survey of a nationally representative matched sample of 1000 adolescents (ages 12 to 18) and their parents in 2008. Overall, parents expressed more conservative attitudes regarding permissible sexual behavior than did the adolescents; for example, 11% of parents said it would be okay for an adolescent to have intercourse before leaving high school as compared with 33% of adolescents. Similar differences were found in parent and adolescent opinions about sexual intercourse if birth control was used or if the adolescent had been dating the same person for over a year. Social and cultural norms significantly predict adolescent and parent attitudes with more permissive views expressed both by and about males than females, and significantly different views by race and ethnicity. Multivariate analyses were conducted using a conceptual model based on the literature that explored three main pathways of influence (parents, peers, exposure to information about sex and abstinence in a class or program) on parent-adolescent communication and adolescent attitudes. Adjusting for all other factors in the model, parent and peer factors are more consistently associated with differences in adolescent attitudes about sex and abstinence than are measures of adolescent exposure to sex and abstinence topics in a class or program. Additionally, parent attitudes are more important in influencing adolescent views than the level of parent communication with their adolescent.

Learning Objectives:
Describe findings from a national survey of adolescent-parent pairs on attitudes re: sex and abstinence Discuss implications of multivariate analyses based on conceptual model developed from literature

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Sexual Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: PhD in Health Economics, University of Wisconsin Responsible for all statistical analyses of data from survey.
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.