, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 56-66

Adolescent expectancies, parent-adolescent communication and intentions to have sexual intercourse among inner-city, middle school youth

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Background: The incidence and prevalence of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections among American adolescents remain unacceptably high.Purpose: This research examines adolescent intentions to have sexual intercourse, their expectancies about having sexual intercourse, and maternal communication about the expectancies of engaging in sexual intercourse.Methods: Six hundred sixty-eight randomly selected inner-city middle school students and their mothers completed self-administered questionnaires. Adolescents reported their intentions to have sexual intercourse and the perceived positive and negative expectancies of doing so. Both mothers and adolescents reported on the frequency of communication about these expectancies.Results: Boys reported higher intentions, more positive expectancies, and lower levels of maternal communication than did girls. Expectancies statistically significantly associated with intentions focused on the positive physical, social, and emotional advantages of having sex rather than on concerns about pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. With some exceptions, maternal communication was associated with adolescents-expectancies about engaging in sexual intercourse. However, only modest correlations between maternal and adolescent reports of communication were observed.Conclusions: Results indicate that intervention programs should address the positive expectancies youth have about having sex, not just the threat of pregnancy and HIV/AIDS, and should address potential gender differences in expectancies between boys and girls.

This research was conducted as part of the Linking Lives Health Education Program efficacy evaluation and was supported by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Cooperative Agreement # U87/CCU220155-3-0. The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the CDC.