245959 Sexual Health and Positive Relationships: Perceptions of Urban Youth and Parents

Monday, October 31, 2011

Kimberly Rak, MA , Department of Anthropology, Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, University Of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Michael Yonas, DrPH , School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Vera Kelly, Health Coach , Steps to a Healthy Community, UPMC, Braddock, PA
Jessica Burke, PhD, MHS , Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA
Introduction: Youth who have sex at early ages are less likely than at later ages to utilize safe sex practices resulting in a myriad of health consequences, such as teenage pregnancy, STDs, and HIV. While youth prioritize sexual health issues, significant gaps remain in meeting their education and service needs. To address these gaps this research explored how youth interpret sexual “risk” within relationships which contribute to disparities. Methods: This exploratory study is guided by the principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR) and data collection methods were qualitative in nature. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with youth age 14-18 (n=8) and parents (n=4) in an under-served community near Pittsburgh, PA. Visual Voices, an arts-based participatory method, was conducted with youth ages 10-13 (n=10) to engage and integrate the perceptions of younger children. Thematic coding was used to analyze transcripts and art.

Results: Results illustrate several issues of concern, including: gendered expectations in relationships, interpersonal violence in teen relationships, lack of communication and precautions to prevent negative sexual health outcomes, normatively of teen parenthood, early sexual initiation, and sexual experimentation. Younger youth, present a comparison along developmental and experiential factors. Illustrative quotes and artwork will be presented.

Conclusion: These findings provide a unique contextualized understanding of the experience of dating and engaging in sexual behaviors among marginalized urban youth in a manner that is both culturally and developmentally informed. Through continued engagement with the community and dissemination of findings, strategies will be developed that translate this research to inform youth services.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe perceptions of sexual risk and positive relationships among urban youth and parents living in a marginalized community. Among the youth, compare these perceptions across gender and age strata (10-13 and 14-18).

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Sexual Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present as I have been involved in all phases of the research to be presented: research design, grant application, community partnership development, data collection, and data analysis.
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.