Social-emotional intelligence (SEI) has been linked with a number of health behaviors in adolescent populations. However, little is known about the influence of SEI on sexual behavior. This study examined associations between three indicators of SEI (intrapersonal skills, interpersonal skills, stress management skills) and adolescent girls sexual risk behaviors. Data come from a cross-sectional sample of sexually active adolescent girls (ages 13 to 17 years) at high risk for pregnancy (N = 253), recruited from health care clinics in a Midwest metropolitan area during 2007 and 2008. Results of multivariable regression models controlling for participants age and race/ethnicity indicated that each aspect of SEI was related to distinct sexual risk behaviors. Specifically, girls with greater intrapersonal skills had significantly fewer male sex partners in the past six months (b =-0.16). Participants with greater interpersonal skills reported earlier communication with their sexual partner about sexual risk (b = 0.14), and those with a better ability to manage stress reported more consistent condom use (b = 0.31). Study findings suggest that SEI may provide a protective buffer against sexual risk behaviors. Building adolescent girls social and emotional skills may be an effective strategy for reducing their risk for early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research [Grant Number 5R01-NR00877 and Health Resources and Services Administration Grant Number T32HP2239]
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