Online Program

Understanding the parental predictors and STI consequences of casual sex in emerging adulthood  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 12:30 p.m. - 12:45 p.m.

Shandey Malcolm, PhD, National Epidemiology and Research Unit, Ministry of Health, Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands
Seth Schwartz, PhD, Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Prevention Science & Community Health, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Daniel Feaster, PhD, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami, Miami, FL
Guillermo Prado, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Marilyn Montgomery, PhD, Capella University
Introduction: Emerging adults report the highest rates of casual sex, particularly ongoing friends-with-benefits encounters and one-time hookups with strangers. To promote the sexual health of this group it is important to gain an understanding of the two, intrinsically different, behaviors. Bowlby's attachment theory posits that parental attachments influence childhood expectations which in turn influence their later behaviors. Yet, the early parental predictors of friends-with-benefits and hookups in emerging adulthood are unclear. Additionally, the STI consequences have not been empirically investigated. Methods: Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 3307) was used to test a structural equation model in which mother-adolescent attachment (wave I, mean age = 15.8) predicted friends-with-benefits and hookups in emerging adulthood (wave III, mean age = 22.2), both directly and indirectly through sexualized and romanticized relationship expectations. The model also considered STIs as a consequence of both casual sex behaviors. Results: The hypothesized model demonstrated an adequate fit (CFI = 0.93, RMSEA = 0.047). Mother-adolescent attachment inversely predicted friend-with-benefits through sexualized relationship expectations (Β = -0.06, 95%CI = -0.09 to -0.02). In addition, friends-with-benefits positively predicted STI diagnosis (Β = .16, p = .02). Similar findings resulted from separate analysis by gender. Conclusions: Study findings suggest that secure mother-adolescent attachment is indirectly associated with fewer friends-with-benefits, but not hookups, among emerging adults. It additionally suggests that friends-with-benefits, but not hookups, are associated with STIs in this group. Thus, the hypothesized model was supported for one, but not both, types of casual sex.

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate a model in which parental attachment predicts casual sex in emerging adulthood and casual sex, in turn, predicts the diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections.

Keyword(s): Sexual Risk Behavior, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I completed the analysis, under the direction of my committee chair and other committee members, as part of the dissertation requirement as a graduate student.
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.