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Sense of personal control influences Latinas' decisions about sexual debut
Date:1/16/2008

A sense of personal control over sexual behaviors strongly influences Latina womens decisions of when to first engage in sex, report researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center in the November issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Greater sense of personal control over sexual behaviors appeared to be the strongest factor influencing delay. This suggests that Latina womens own beliefs regarding timing of first sexual intercourse may outweigh the influence of family, friends, and partners.

The study also revealed a high correlation between a young Latinas decision about when to first initiate sexual activity and her familys expectations.

Both personal control and family expectations had a very important role in delaying early initiation of sex, said study author Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH, section chief of Family Planning at the University of Chicago Medical Center. If the daughter perceived that her family felt her education was important, then it led her to delay sex.

Gilliam and colleagues conducted seven focus groups to determine survey questions most relevant to the culture and experience of the young Latina population. They then developed, tested and administered the survey in both English and Spanish to a separate group of 270 Latinas, between the ages of 17 and 25. The age at the time of sexual initiation ranged from 12 to 24 with 16.15 years as the mean.

The study also found a strong correlation with the young womans mothers age at first pregnancy and the age of the young womans first sexual partner. The greater the age difference between the woman and her older partner, the more likely she was to engage in sex at an earlier age.

This study on the sexual attitudes of a specific population is unique because researchers used focus groups to develop the survey questions. If they had found that other factors influenced behavior then they would have included questions on those subjects.'/>"/>

Contact: Theresa Carson
theresa.carson@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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