Environmental, social, and personal correlates of having ever had sexual intercourse among American Indian youths

Wendy L Hellerstedt, Melanie Peterson-Hickey, Kristine L. Rhodes, Ann E Garwick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

55 Scopus citations


Objectives. We examined the correlates of having ever had sexual intercourse among American Indians aged 13 to 18 years in Minnesota. Methods. To assess key environmental, social, and individual correlates of sexual experience, we analyzed data from 4135 American Indian youths who participated in the 1998 and 2001 Minnesota Student Surveys. Results. Forty-two percent of those aged 13 to 15 years and 69% of those aged 16 to 18 years reported that they had ever had sexual intercourse. Correlates of sexual experience varied by age and gender. School connections had the strongest negative associations with sexual experience in young girls, and living with a father had negative associations with sexual experience for younger, but not older, youths. Sexual experience was most strongly and positively associated with risk behaviors such as substance use, violence exposure, and violence perpetuation. Conclusions. The strongest correlates of sexual experience for American Indian youths were high-risk behaviors and exposure to violence. Future work is needed to develop and employ measures that reflect youth assets and that specifically reflect the experiences of American Indian youths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2228-2234
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006


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