Patterns of Adolescent Sexual Behavior Predicting Young Adult Sexually Transmitted Infections: A Latent Class Analysis Approach
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Adolescent sexual behavior is multidimensional, yet most studies of the topic use variable-oriented methods that reduce behaviors to a single dimension. In this study, we used a person-oriented approach to model adolescent sexual behavior comprehensively, using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. We identified five latent classes of adolescent sexual behavior: Abstinent (39 %), Oral Sex (10 %), Low-Risk (25 %), Multi-Partner Normative (12 %), and Multi-Partner Early (13 %). Membership in riskier classes of sexual behavior was predicted by substance use and depressive symptoms. Class membership was also associated with young adult STI outcomes although these associations differed by gender. Male adolescents’ STI rates increased with membership in classes with more risky behaviors whereas females’ rates were consistent among all sexually active classes. These findings demonstrate the advantages of examining adolescent sexuality in a way that emphasizes its complexity.
KeywordsSexual behavior Adolescence Latent class analysis Sexually transmitted infections
This research used data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website (http://www.cpc.unc.edu/addhealth). No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis. This research and the investigators were funded by National Institute on Drug Abuse grants P50-DA010075-15 and 2T32DA 017629-06A1. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or NIDA.
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