Influences on adolescents' decision to postpone onset of sexual intercourse: A survival analysis of virginity among youths aged 13 to 18 years

Cristina Lammers, Marjorie Ireland, Michael Resnick, Robert Blum

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    287 Scopus citations


    Background: Previous research has focused on risk factors associated with early onset of sexual intercourse among adolescents. This study hypothesizes that protective factors identified for other health compromising behaviors are also protective against early onset of sexual intercourse. The study sample included 26,023 students in grades 7-12 (87.5% white, 52.5% male) who did not report a history of sexual abuse in a statewide survey of adolescent health in 1988.Methods: Bivariate analyses were stratified into early (13-14 years), middle (15-16 years) and late (17-18 years) adolescence and by gender. Cox proportional hazards survival analysis, stratified by gender, was used to determine risk and protective factors associated with delayed onset of sexual intercourse.Results: Variables showing a significant bivariate association with lower levels of sexual activity across all age groups and genders were: dual-parent families, higher socioeconomic status (SES), better school performance, greater religiosity, absence of suicidal thoughts, feeling adults or parents cared, and high parental expectations. High levels of body pride were associated with higher levels of sexual activity for all age and gender groups. In the multivariate survival analyses, variables significantly associated with delayed onset of sexual activity for both males and females included: dual-parent families, higher SES, residing in rural areas, higher school performance, concerns about the community, and higher religiosity. High parental expectations were a significant protective factor for males but not for females.Conclusion: While many protective factors are not subject to intervention, the present analyses indicate that teen pregnancy prevention may be enhanced by addressing family and educational factors. Copyright (C) 1999 Society for Adolescent Medicine.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)42-48
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 2000

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    This study was supported in part by grants from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, MCH-273460 and MCJ-000985, Health Services Research Administration, Department of Health and Human Services. D. Lammers was supported by the American Association of University Women.


    • Adolescents
    • Sexual activity
    • Survival analysis


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