205428 Adolescents in Love: Mutuality of commitment in adolescent couples

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dana L. Watnick, MPH, MSSW , Preventive Intervention Research Center for Child Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
Laurie J. Bauman, PhD , Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Yeshiva University, Bronx, NY
Ellen Silver, PhD , Preventive Intervention Research Center for Child Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
Background: Research suggests that boys are less likely than girls to report being in love. However, no studies have interviewed adolescent couples to determine whether being in love is mutual, or if boys sexualize their relationships.

Design/Methods: Data were collected for a longitudinal study of 139 sexually active adolescent heterosexual couples. We recruited ‘index' participants aged 14-17 from outpatient medical practices in the Bronx, NY and then recruited their current sexual partner who was older than 14 and no more than four years older than the index partner. Both partners completed computer-assisted self-administered surveys at up to five time points over the course of a 1 1/2-year period. 84% of eligible couples agreed to participate.

Results: At baseline, 74% of boys and 78% of girls reported being in a serious committed relationship with 68% of couples agreeing. Being ‘in love' was reported by 89% of girls and 85% of boys (80% of couples agreed). The relationship was reported as “very” or “extremely important” to 91% of girls and 87% of boys (83% of couples agreed). Sexual monogamy was reported by 73% of both boys and girls. Condoms were used consistently in less than 31% of couples agreeing they were in love.

Conclusions: Boys and girls demonstrated high concordance on being in a loving, serious, and monogamous relationship. However, among youth in committed relationships, love is a barrier to condom use and is likely to prove resistant to HIV/STI risk reduction interventions.

Learning Objectives:
(1) Define the degree of commitment in adolescent couples (2) Explain the likelihood of boys being in love as compared to girls

Keywords: Adolescents, Sexual Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an analyst on this research project
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.