, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 455-471

Consistency of adolescents' self-report of sexual behavior in a longitudinal study

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Abstract

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.

Received Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. Research interests include adolescent health and early adolescent development.
Received Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. Research interests include personality, stress, and coping.
Received Ph.D. from University of Chicago. Research interests include adolescent delinquency and substance use.
Received Dr. P.H. from Johns Hopkins University. Research interests include rural adolescents and international health issues.
Received Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. Research interests include adolescent sexuality and contraceptive decision making.