142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Influence of Religious Affiliation on Birth Control Use at First Intercourse: Examining Possible Pathways

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Charis Davidson, MPH, DrPH Candidate , Arnold School of Public Health, Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC

U.S. adults aged 15-25 make up 25% of the sexually active population, yet 50% of new sexually transmitted infections (CDC, 2009). Research suggests that adolescent religiosity is associated with responsible sexual behavior, but the protective mechanisms are less clear. This study examined the association between religion and adolescent sexual risk behavior–specifically, use of a modern method of birth control (MMBC) at first intercourse – and the potential mediating roles of parent-child communication, formal sex education, and frequency of religious service attendance.


This study focused on participants in the 2006-2010 cycle of the National Survey of Family Growth aged 15-24 years (female n= 2,754,  male n= 2,514) . Logistic regression was used to determine whether religious affiliation was associated with use of MMBC at first intercourse, while examining three possible mediators:  parent-child communication, formal sex education, and frequency of religious service attendance at age 14.


Approximately 75% of respondents used MMBC at first intercourse. Rates of comprehensive sex education and parent-child communication were similar across both gender and religious affiliation. Religious affiliation was significantly associated with use of MMBC for only Catholic males, who were slightly more likely to use MMBC than nonreligious males.  This association was mediated by parent-child communication about sex.


Results indicated that parents may engage in different conversations about sex child based on their child’s gender, regardless of religious affiliation.  This suggests that health promotion materials should be tailored based on gender for parents to effectively communicate with their children about sex.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the impact of religious affiliation and parent-child communication about sex on adolescent use of birth control at first intercourse.

Keyword(s): Religion, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral candidate in health promotion, education, and behavior. My primary research area is the impact of religion and faith communities on adolescent and young adult attitudes, beliefs and behaviors related to relationships and sex.
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.