Online Program

Protective factors for adolescent sexual health in the context of homelessness

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 1:30 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.

Annie-Laurie McRee, DrPH, Division of Health Behavior and Health Promotion, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Kierra Barnett, MPH, College of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Background: Homeless adolescents are at increased risk of poor health outcomes. Yet, little research has examined the role of protective factors, such as family and school connectedness, on adolescent sexual health in the context of homelessness.

Methods: We used data from a statewide sample of adolescents in Minnesota who responded to a school-based survey during 2013 (N=79,339). The sample was 50% female and 75% non-Hispanic white. Multivariable logistic regression models controlled for demographic characteristics.

Results: Overall, 5% of adolescents reported having been homeless in the past year. Homeless adolescents had significantly lower levels of family and school connectedness than their continuously housed peers (both p<.001). Regarding indicators of sexual health, more homeless adolescents reported ever having sexual intercourse (45% vs. 25%) or experiencing a pregnancy (20% vs. 8%, among sexually-experienced youth), and fewer reported using a condom at last sex (58% vs. 66%) (all p<.001). Among homeless adolescents, higher levels of family or school connectedness were associated with better sexual health, including lower odds of having sex (family, OR=0.48; school, OR=0.50) or experiencing a pregnancy (family, OR=0.34), and greater odds of using a condom (family, OR=1.50) (all p<.05). In moderation analyses, family connectedness had a stronger protective effect on ever having sex for homeless, than for housed, adolescents (family connectedness*homelessness interaction, OR=0.76, p<.05).

Conclusion: Study findings highlight the importance of family and school connectedness for sexual health among homeless adolescents, despite their lower levels of these protective factors. Schools may provide a venue to intervene and support this vulnerable population.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Compare the sexual health of adolescents who have experienced homelessness to continuously housed youth. Explain the relationship between family and school connectedness and adolescent sexual health in the context of homelessness.

Keyword(s): Adolescents, Homelessness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I hold a DrPH in Maternal and Child Health and am faculty in the College of Public Health at The Ohio State University. I conduct research on adolescent health with a focus on sexual/reproductive health and health services. I have published on similar topics in peer-reviewed journals and presented at several previous APHA meetings.
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.