Ethnic comparisons of adolescent sexual risk-taking and preventive behavior

Jesse N Nodora, The University of Texas School of Public Health


For adolescents, unprotected sexual intercourse is the primary cause of sexually transmitted disease (STD), including Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection (virus which causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)), and pregnancy. Although many studies on adolescent sexual behavior have addressed racial/ethnic differences, few studies have examined the relation between race/ethnicity while controlling for other sociocultural and psychosocial variables. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between racial/ethnic categories and selected sociocultural and psychosocial variables, with reported adolescent sexual risk-taking and preventive behavior. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect information from 3132 students in a Texas school district (Section 3.5.2). The instrument contained approximately 100 questions on demographic characteristics, sexual behavior, and psychosocial determinants of sexual behavior. Based on the findings of this study, the following major conclusions are made: (1) There are differences in reported sexual risk-taking and preventive behavior among Black, Hispanic and White adolescents in this study. The stratified analysis by gender further suggests significant gender differences in reported sexual behavior among the three racial/ethnic groups. (2) Gender, living arrangement, academic grades, and language spoken at home modified the association between reported sexual risk-taking and preventive behavior and race/ethnicity in this study. This suggests that these sociocultural variables should be considered in future research and practice involving multicultural populations. (3) There are differences in selected psychosocial determinants among the three racial/ethnic groups and between males and females. These differences were consistent with the reported sexual risk-taking and preventive behaviors among race/ethnicity and gender for adolescents in this study. The findings support the consideration of psychosocial determinants in research and interventions addressing adolescent sexual behavior among different racial/ethnic groups. Based on the results of this study, two recommendations for practice are made. First, health professionals developing interventions for adolescents from different cultural backgrounds and gender need to be familiar with the specific sociocultural and psychosocial factors which will reduce risky sexual behavior, and promote protective behavior. Second, the need for immediate, realistic, and continuous HIV/STD and pregnancy prevention programs for children and adolescents should be considered.

Subject Area

Public health|Behaviorial sciences|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Nodora, Jesse N, "Ethnic comparisons of adolescent sexual risk-taking and preventive behavior" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9631376.