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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 96, Issue 4, pp 313–318 | Cite as

Socio-economic Factors and Adolescent Sexual Activity and Behaviour in Nova Scotia

  • Donald B. Langille
  • Jean Hughes
  • Gail Tomblin Murphy
  • Janet A. Rigby
Article

Abstract

Purpose

Little is known about associations of adolescents’ socio-economic status (SES) and their sexual activity and risk behaviours. This study examined these associations in Nova Scotia adolescents aged 15–19.

Methods

Students at four high schools in northern Nova Scotia completed surveys examining relationships of family SES factors and: 1) sexual activity (having had vaginal or anal intercourse, intercourse before age 15 (early intercourse)); and 2) risk behaviours (use of contraception/condoms, number of partners and unplanned intercourse after substance use).

Results

Of students present when the survey was administered, 2,135 (91%) responded. Almost half (49%) had had vaginal intercourse, and 7% anal intercourse. In univariate analysis for young women, non-intact family structure and lower parental education were associated with having vaginal, anal and early intercourse. Female risk behaviours showed no significant univariate associations with SES. Young men had univariate associations of family structure, lower maternal education and paternal unemployment with early intercourse, and lower paternal education with anal intercourse. Condom use was higher for young men with employed fathers; those living with both parents less often had >1 sexual partner. In multivariate analysis, most SES associations with females’ sexual activities held, while most for males did not, and few associations of SES and risk behaviours were seen for females.

Conclusions

Indicators of lower SES are associated with sexual activity in young women. Sexual risk behaviours are not often associated with SES in females, though they are more so in males. These findings have implications for sexual health promotion and health services.

MeSH terms

Adolescent sexual activity sexual behaviour socioeconomic factors 

Résumé

Objet

On en sait peu sur les liens entre le statut socio-économique (SSE) des adolescents, leur activité sexuelle et leur propension à prendre des risques. Nous avons étudié ces liens chez des adolescents de la Nouvelle-écosse âgés de 15 à 19 ans.

Méthode

Les élèves de quatre écoles secondaires du Nord de la Nouvelle-écosse ont rempli des questionnaires sur les facteurs liés à leur SSE familial et: 1) à leur activité sexuelle (relations vaginales ou anales, relations précoces [avant l’âge de 15 ans]) et 2) à leur propension à prendre des risques (utilisation des contraceptifs ou des condoms, nombre de partenaires, relations non planifiées après avoir consommé de l’alcool ou des drogues).

Résultats

Parmi les élèves présents pendant l’administration du sondage, 2 135 (91%) ont rempli un questionnaire. Près de la moitié (49%) avaient eu des relations vaginales, et 7%, des relations anales. Selon l’analyse univariée des réponses des filles, une structure familiale dissociée et un faible niveau d’instruction parental étaient associés aux relations vaginales et anales et aux relations précoces. La propension des filles à prendre des risques n’était pas associée de façon significative au SSE selon l’analyse univariée. Chez les garçons, la structure familiale, le faible niveau d’instruction maternel et le chômage paternel étaient associés aux relations précoces, et le faible niveau d’instruction paternel, aux relations anales. L’utilisation du condom était plus courante chez les garçons dont le père avait un emploi, et ceux qui vivaient avec leurs deux parents étaient moins nombreux à avoir eu plusieurs partenaires sexuels. L’analyse multivariable a confirmé la plupart des liens entre le SSE et l’activité sexuelle chez les filles, mais infirmé la plupart de ces liens chez les garçons; chez les filles, l’analyse multivariable n’a permis d’établir que très peu de liens significatifs entre le SSE et la propension à prendre des risques.

Conclusions

Les indicateurs d’un faible SSE sont associés à l’activité sexuelle chez les filles. La propension à prendre des risques sexuels n’est pas souvent liée au SSE chez les filles, mais elle l’est davantage chez les garçons. Ces constatations ont des conséquences pour la promotion de la santé sexuelle et les services de santé.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald B. Langille
    • 1
  • Jean Hughes
    • 2
  • Gail Tomblin Murphy
    • 2
  • Janet A. Rigby
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Faculty of MedicineDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.School of Nursing, Faculty of Health SciencesDalhousie UniversityCanada

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