Female adolescents and onset of sexual intercourse: A theory-based review of research from 1984 to 1994

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      To review a decade of research on the correlates of early onset of sexual intercourse among female adolescents in the United States, using Social Cognitive Theory as a framework for classification.


      Forty-nine studies published in peer-reviewed journals between 1984 and 1994 were reviewed and their findings coded by two independent coders.


      Findings indicate that most of the studies emphasized quantitative methodologies, using cross-sectional designs and univariate statistical analyses. Many studies lacked a theoretical framework or conceptual model to guide their investigations. When evaluating empirical findings, 61% of the studies found environmental correlates and 47% found biological factors (e.g., age and pubertal development) to be significantly associated with early initiation of sexual intercourse.


      These findings raise important questions about the quality of research on adolescent sexuality, as well as its relationship to the development of risk-reduction programs which tend to focus mainly on intrapersonal factors (such as attitudes, knowledge, and expectancies).

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