Consistency of adolescents' self-report of sexual behavior in a longitudinal study
- Cite this article as:
- Alexander, C.S., Somerfield, M.R., Ensminger, M.E. et al. J Youth Adolescence (1993) 22: 455. doi:10.1007/BF01537710
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This study examines three issues relevant to adolescent self-reported sexual behavior: the extent to which adolescents rescind reports of sexual intercourse, changes in reporting of lifetime sexual intercourse, and changes in reported age at first sexual intercourse. Data come from a three-year longitudinal study of health-compromising behaviors among a cohort a 758 rural adolescents. Students completed a self-administered questionnaire on health behaviors annually in eighth, ninth, and tenth grades. Findings show that 88.8% of students in eighth grade and 94.3% in ninth grade who reported having had sexual intercourse gave the same answer in a subsequent year. Approximately 15% of students reported fewer numbers of lifetime sexual intercourse experiences in tenth grade than they did in ninth grade. Age at first sexual intercourse was reported inconsistently by 67% of the students. Inconsistency rates differed by racial-gender groups, question sensitivity, and prior sexual experience.