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Connectedness as a Predictor of Sexual and Reproductive Health Outcomes for Youth

      Abstract

      To review research examining the influence of “connectedness” on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH). Connectedness, or bonding, refers to the emotional attachment and commitment a child makes to social relationships in the family, peer group, school, community, or culture. A systematic review of behavioral research (1985–2007) was conducted. Inclusion criteria included examination of the association between a connectedness sub-construct and an ASRH outcome, use of multivariate analyses, sample size of ≥100, and publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Results were coded as protective, risk, or no association, and as longitudinal, or cross sectional. Findings from at least two longitudinal studies for a given outcome with consistent associations were considered sufficient evidence for a protective or risk association. Eight connectedness sub-constructs were reviewed: family connectedness (90 studies), parent–adolescent general communication (16 studies), parent–adolescent sexuality communication (58 studies), parental monitoring (61 studies), peer connectedness (nine studies), partner connectedness (12 studies), school connectedness (18 studies), and community connectedness (four studies). There was sufficient evidence to support a protective association with ASRH outcomes for family connectedness, general and sexuality-specific parent–adolescent communication, parental monitoring, partner connectedness, and school connectedness. Sufficient evidence of a risk association was identified for the parent overcontrol sub-construct of parental monitoring. Connectedness can be a protective factor for ASRH outcomes, and efforts to strengthen young people's pro-social relationships are a promising target for approaches to promote ASRH. Further study regarding specific sub-constructs as well as their combined influence is needed.

      Keywords

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