The validity of self-reported condom use among adolescents

Marcia L. Shew, Gary J. Remafedi, Linda H Bearinger, Patricia L. Faulkner, Barbara A. Taylor, Sandra J Potthoff, Michael D Resnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Background: Research and public health interventions designed to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) often are based on self- reported condom use. Yet, validation of self-reported condom use, in particular with adolescents, has rarely been described in the literature. Methods: Baseline data were obtained from 540 adolescents, 13-21 years of age, enrolled in a 1-year longitudinal study of health beliefs, sexual behaviors, and STD acquisition. Of the 445 participants reporting to be sexually active, 404 (90.8%) agreed to a complete physical examination, including a genital examination, with STD screening after completing the self-administered written questionnaire. Participants' written self-report of condom use was compared to histories obtained by clinicians and laboratory diagnosis of acute STDs to assess validity of written self-report. Results: Complete data were available for 321 females and 77 males of whom 52 females and 5 males had laboratory evidence of 63 infections. Although three individuals who had STDs reported to be consistent users of condoms, a significant association (P < 0.05) was found between those who reported more frequent condom use with the last two partners and the absence of STDs. Conclusion: In this group of adolescents, self-report of condom use with the last two partners was associated with the absence of an acute STD. This finding suggests that self-reported condom use is a valid indicator of risk for STDs, with implication for those working with adolescents clinically and in research contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-510
Number of pages8
JournalSexually Transmitted Diseases
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 1997


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