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An Examination of Sexual Health Information Sources, Knowledge and Behaviours Among Australian Teens: a Latent Class Analysis



Little is known about the relationship between sexual health information-seeking practices of adolescents, knowledge and behaviour.

The aim of this analysis was to characterise types of sexual health information-seeking adolescents in Australia and examine the relationship between those types and sexual health outcomes.


The cross-sectional Australian national survey collected data in 2018. Participants (N = 6,929) reported their use of sexual health information sources, sexual health knowledge (\(51\mathrm{ items}; \alpha =0.86)\), sexual activity, condom and contraceptive use and socio-demographics. Latent class analysis identified 4 unique classes. Multinomial logistic regression models estimated class outcomes for knowledge and behaviour-related measures.


Non-seekers (13.9%) were more likely than all other classes to be younger and not yet had sex; everyday seekers (41.9%) were more likely to be older, have medium sexual health knowledge (50–79% correct answers) and used condoms and/or the pill; peer seekers (34.1%) were no more likely to have good sexual health knowledge or use condoms and/or the pill; variety seekers (10.1%) were more likely to have medium sexual health knowledge and have used the pill. Everyday and variety seekers had greater odds of better sexual health knowledge and behavioural outcomes.


Findings can provide guidance for sexual health advocates in designing targeted and effective new information campaigns that address the barriers and facilitators to sexual health information seeking.

Policy Implications

Policy and resultant funding can be adapted based on findings to ensure a diversity of sexual health information sources are available to young people.

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Availability of Data and Material

Data is not publicly available per ethics approval for the study due to the sensitive nature of the data. Code books and related material can be made available upon request to the corresponding author.

Code Availability

Code developed for the analyses can be made available upon request to the corresponding author.


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The authors wish to thank the thousands of young people who shared their experiences for this study as well as the numerous community and government stakeholders who helped to guide development of the study. The authors acknowledge the many researchers and assistants who contributed to the larger study team including Jayne Lucke, Gosia Mikolajczak, Graham Brown, Andrea Waling, Paulina Ezer, Lucille Kerr and Rosalind Bellamy. An oral presentation of these results was given at the November 2020 national joint Australasian HIV & AIDS and Sexual Health conference.


This work was supported by funding from the Australian Commonwealth Department of Health, though had no role in the study.

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Correspondence to Christopher M. Fisher.

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Ethics Approval

La Trobe University provided full ethical approval for the conduct of this study (HEC18030). No human subjects were harmed in the conduct of this study and all participants provided informed consent to participate in line with ethics approvals and the Australian National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

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Fisher, C.M., Kauer, S., Singleton, A. et al. An Examination of Sexual Health Information Sources, Knowledge and Behaviours Among Australian Teens: a Latent Class Analysis. Sex Res Soc Policy 20, 75–83 (2023).

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  • Sexual health information seeking
  • Latent class analysis
  • Sexual health knowledge
  • Condoms and contraception
  • Sexual behaviour