, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 77-89

Can Self-Reported Drug Use Data Be Used to Assess Sex Risk Behavior in Adolescents?

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To better understand and control the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among high-risk youth, we must first acquire reliable reports of sexual risk behavior. This study evaluates one potential method for validating such reports. We examined the association between marijuana and cocaine use reporting patterns and the number of reported recent sexual partners in a sample of juvenile arrestees/detainees. Using urinalysis to validate self-reported drug use, we categorized drug use reporting patterns into four groups: overreporters, underreporters, honest users, and honest nonusers. Analyses showed, in general, that overreporters reported more sexual partners than either underreporters or accurate reporters, suggesting that overreporters of drug use may also exaggerate sex partner reports. Findings suggest a new method for validating self-reported sexual behavior and provide a challenge to theories of juvenile delinquency.