Mother-Adolescent Health Communication: Are All Conversations Created Equally?
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Fifty-two mother-adolescent dyads (mean adolescent age = 16.3) participated in an observational study of communication about health topics. The aim of the study was to examine mother-adolescent conversations about health issues—drugs/alcohol, sexuality, nutrition/exercise—to determine the extent to which the mothers treat these issues similarly. Across conversations, mothers spent more time asking questions than lecturing or discussing negative consequences. Mothers discussed negative consequences less in the nutrition/exercise and sexuality conversations than in the drug/alcohol conversation. Mothers asked fewer questions when discussing nutrition/exercise than drugs/alcohol, and lectured more in the nutrition/exercise conversation than in the sexuality conversation. The results of this study have implications for intervention programmers advocating in the media that parents “talk to your kids” about these health issues.
KeywordsParent-adolescent interaction Communication Health Sexuality Drug/alcohol
This work was supported by an Individual National Research Service Award #MH63597 to Tanya Boone. We are grateful to Ryan Howell for his statistical consultation, and to Carrie Duermier, Heather Duran, Nicole Pierucci-Morgan, Tamara Ritter, Katrina Rodzon, and Bethany Zoeller for their help with data coding. We also thank the mothers and adolescents who participated in this study.
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