Advertisement

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

      This paper is only available as a PDF. To read, Please Download here.

      Purpose:

      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.

      Methods:

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

      Results:

      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.

      Conclusion:

      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).

      Key Words

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to Journal of Adolescent Health
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • Congress, Office of Technology Assessment
        Adolescent health—volume II: Background and the effectiveness of selected prevention and treatment services. U.S. Government Printing Office, New York1991
        • Brooks-Gunn J
        • Paikoff RL
        “Sex is a gamble, kissing is a game”: Adolescent sexuality and health promotion.
        in: Millstein SG Petersen AC Nightingale EO Promoting the health of adolescents. Oxford University Press, Washington, D.C.1993: 180-208
        • Miller BC
        • Moore KA
        Adolescent sexual behavior, pregnancy, and parenting: Research through the 1980s.
        J Marriage Fam. 1990; 52: 1025-1044
        • Alan Guttmacher Institute
        Sex and America's teenagers.
        Alan Guttmacher Institute, New York1994
        • Light RJ
        • Pillemer DB
        Summing up: The science of reviewing research.
        Harvard University Press, New York, NY1984
        • Brooks-Gunn J
        • Furstenberg Jr., FF
        Adolescent sexual behavior.
        Am Psychol. 1989; 44: 249-257
        • Strahle WM
        A model of premarital coitus and contraceptive behavior among female adolescents.
        Arch Sex Behav. 1983; 12: 67-94
        • Bandura A
        Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory.
        Prentice-Hall, Cambridge1986
        • Perry CL
        • Baranowski T
        • Parcel GS
        How individuals, environments, and health behavior interact: social learning theory.
        in: Glanz K Lewis FM Rimer BK Health behavior and health education. Jossey-Bass, Englewood Cliffs, NJ1990: 161-186
        • Parcel GS
        • Baranowski T
        Social learning theory and health education.
        Health Ed. 1981;May/June; : 14-18
        • Kirby D
        • Barth RP
        • Leland N
        • et al.
        Reducing the Risk: Impact of a new curriculum on sexual risk-taking.
        Fam Plann Perspect. 1991; 23: 253-263
        • Kirby D
        School-based programs to reduce sexual risk-taking behaviors.
        J Sch Health. 1992; 62: 280-287
        • Kirby D
        • Short L
        • Collins J
        • et al.
        School-based programs to reduce sexual risk behaviors: A review of effectiveness.
        Public Health Rep. 1994; 109: 339-360
        • Reiss IL
        • Reiss HM
        An end to shame: Shaping our next sexual revolution.
        Prometheus Books, San Francisco1990
        • Cohen SA
        • Richards CL
        The Cairo consensus: Population, development and women.
        Fam Plann Perspect. 1994; 26: 272-277
        • Stevens J
        Applied multivariate statistics for the social sciences.
        2nd ed. Erlbaum, Buffalo1992
        • Firestone WA
        The content and context of sexuality education: An exploratory study in one state.
        Fam Plann Perspect. 1994; 26: 125-131
        • Kirby D
        Sexuality education: it can reduce unprotected intercourse.
        SIECUS Rep. 1992/1993 December/January; : 19-25
        • Howard M
        • McCabe JB
        Helping teenagers postpone sexual involvement.
        Fam Plann Perspect. 1990; 22: 21-26
        • Irwin Jr, CE
        • Millstein S
        Correlates and predictors of risk-taking behavior during adolescence.
        in: Lipsitt LP Mitnick LL Self-regulatory behavior and risk-taking: Causes and consequences. Ablex, Hillsdale, NJ1991: 3-21
        • Irwin Jr., CE
        The theoretical concept of at-risk adolescents.
        Adolesc Med. 1990; 1: 1-14
        • Klein NA
        • Goodson P
        • Serrins DS
        • et al.
        Evaluation of sex education curricula: Measuring up to the SIECUS guidelines.
        J Sch Health. 1994; 64: 328-333
        • Britton PA
        • de Mauro D
        • Gambrell AE
        HIV/AIDS education: SIECUS study on HIV/AIDS education for schools finds states make progress but work remains.
        SIECUS Rep. 1992; 21: 1-81
        • Kantor LM
        Scared chaste? Fear-based educational curricula.
        SIECUS Rep. 1992/1993; 21: 1-15
        • Freire P
        Pedagogy of the city.
        Continuum, Norwood, NJ1993
      1. Glanz K Lewis FM Rimer B Health behavior and health education: Theory, research and practice. Jossey-Bass, New York1990

      References of Reviewed Studies

        • Alexander CS
        • Ensminger ME
        • Kim YJ
        • et al.
        Early sexual activity among adolescents in small towns and rural areas: race and gender patterns.
        Fam Plann Perspect. 1989; 21: 261-266
        • Baker SA
        • Thalberg SP
        • Morrison DM
        Parents' behavioral norms as predictors of adolescent sexual activity and contraceptive use.
        Adolescence. 1988; 23: 265-282
        • Banks IW
        • Wilson PI
        Appropriate sex education for black teens.
        Adolescence. 1989; 24: 233-245
        • Billy JOG
        • Udry JR
        Patterns of adolescent friendship and effects on sexual behavior.
        Soc Psychol Q. 1985; 48: 27-41
        • Billy JOG
        • Udry JR
        The influence of male and female best friends on adolescent sexual behavior.
        Adolescence. 1985; 20: 21-32
        • Bingham CR
        • Miller BC
        • Adams GR
        Correlates of age at first sexual intercourse in a national sample of young women.
        J Adolesc Res. 1990; 5: 18-33
        • Christopher FS
        • Johnson DC
        • Roosa MW
        Family, individual, and social correlates of early Hispanic adolescent sexual expression.
        J Sex Res. 1993; 30: 54-61
        • Coker AL
        • Richter DL
        • Valois RF
        • et al.
        Correlates and consequences of early initiation of sexual intercourse.
        J Sch Health. 1994; 64: 372-377
        • Day RD
        The transition to first intercourse among racially and culturally diverse youth.
        J Marriage Fam. 1992; 54: 749-762
        • Dorious GL
        • Heaton TB
        • Steffen P
        Adolescent life events and their association with the onset of sexual intercourse.
        Youth Soc. 1993; 25: 3-23
        • Elliott DS
        • Morse BJ
        Delinquency and drug use as risk factors in teenage sexual activity.
        Youth Soc. 1989; 21: 32-60
        • Fingerman KL
        Sex and the working mother: adolescent sexuality, sex role typing and family background.
        Adolescence. 1989; 24: 1-18
        • Flewelling RL
        • Bauman KE
        Family structure as a predictor of initial substance use and sexual intercourse in early adolescence.
        J Marriage Fam. 1990; 52: 171-181
        • Forste RT
        • Heaton TB
        Initiation of sexual activity among female adolescents.
        Youth Soc. 1988; 19: 250-268
        • Furstenberg FF
        • Morgan SP
        • Moore KA
        • et al.
        Race differences in the timing of adolescent intercourse.
        Am Sociol Rev. 1987; 52: 511-518
        • Handler A
        The correlates of the initiation of sexual intercourse among young urban black females.
        J Youth Adolesc. 1990; 19: 159-170
        • Hofferth SL
        • Kahn JR
        • Baldwin W
        Premarital sexual activity among U.S. teenage women over the past three decades.
        Fam Plann Perspect. 1987; 19: 46-53
        • Huizinga D
        • Loeber R
        • Thornberry TP
        Longitudinal study of delinquency, drug use, sexual activity, and pregnancy among children and youth in three cities.
        Public Health Rep. 1993; 108: 90-96
        • Keith JB
        • McCreary C
        • Collins K
        • et al.
        Sexual activity and contraceptive use among low-income urban black adolescent females.
        Adolescence. 1991; 26: 769-785
        • Marsiglio W
        • Mott FL
        The impact of sex education on sexual activity, contraceptive use and premarital pregnancy among American teenagers.
        Fam Plann Perspect. 1986; 18: 151-162
        • McCormick N
        • Izzo A
        • Folcik J
        Adolescents' values, sexuality and contraception in a rural New York county.
        Adolescence. 1985; 20: 385-395
        • Miller BC
        • Bingham R
        Family configuration in relation to the sexual behavior of female adolescents.
        J Marriage Fam. 1989; 51: 499-506
        • Miller BC
        • Olson TD
        Sexual attitudes and behavior of high school students in relation to background and contextual factors.
        J Sex Res. 1988; 24: 194-200
        • Miller BC
        • Sneesby KR
        Educational correlates of adolescents' sexual attitudes and behavior.
        J Youth Adolesc. 1988; 17: 521-530
        • Miller BC
        • Christensen RB
        • Olson TD
        Adolescent self-esteem in relation to sexual attitudes and behavior.
        Youth Soc. 1987; 19: 93-111
        • Miller BC
        • Higginson R
        • McCoy JK
        • et al.
        Family configuration and adolescent sexual attitudes and behavior.
        Pop Environ. 1987; 9: 111-123
        • Miller BC
        • McCoy JK
        • Olson TD
        Dating age and stage as correlates of adolescent sexual attitudes and behavior.
        J Adolesc Res. 1986; 1: 361-371
        • Miller BC
        • Olson TD
        • Wallace C
        Parental discipline and control attempts in relation to adolescent sexual attitudes and behavior.
        J Marriage Fam. 1986; 48: 503-512
        • Newcomb MD
        • Huba GJ
        • Bentler PM
        Determinants of sexual and dating behaviors among adolescents.
        J Perspect Soc Psychol. 1986; 50: 428-438
        • Newcomer SF
        • Udry JR
        Parent-child communication and adolescent sexual behavior.
        Fam Plann Perspect. 1985; 17: 169-174
        • Newcomer SF
        • Udry JR
        Parental marital status effects on adolescent sexual behavior.
        J Marriage Fam. 1987; 49: 235-240
        • Newcomer SF
        • Udry JR
        Mothers' influence on the sexual behavior of their teenage children.
        J Marriage Fam. 1984; 46: 477-485
        • Ostrov E
        • Offer D
        • Howard RI
        • et al.
        Adolescent sexual behavior.
        Med Aspects Hum Sex. 1985; 19: 28-36
        • Pete JM
        • DeSantis L
        Sexual decision making in young black adolescent females.
        Adolescence. 1990; 25: 145-154
        • Phinney VG
        • Jensen LC
        • Olsen JA
        • et al.
        The relationship between early development and psychosexual behaviors n adolescent females.
        Adolescence. 1990; 25: 321-332
        • Rodgers JL
        • Harris DF
        • Vickers KB
        Seasonality of first coitus in the United States.
        Soc Biol. 1992; 39: 1-14
        • Rosenbaum E
        • Kandel D
        Early onset of adolescent sexual behavior and drug involvement.
        J Marriage Fam. 1990; 52: 783-798
        • Scott-Jones D
        • White AB
        Correlates of sexual activity in early adolescence.
        J Early Adolesc. 1990; 10: 221-238
        • Small SA
        • Luster T
        Adolescent sexual activity: An ecological, risk-factor approach.
        J Marriage Fam. 1994; 56: 181-192
        • Smith EA
        • Udry JR
        Coital and non-coital sexual behaviors of white and black adolescents.
        Am J Public Health. 1985; 75: 1200-1203
        • Smith EA
        • Udry JR
        • Morris NM
        Pubertal development and friends: a biosocial explanation of adolescent sexual behavior.
        J Health Soc Behav. 1985; 26: 183-192
        • Soefer EF
        • Scholl TO
        • Sober E
        • et al.
        Menarche: target age for reinforcing sex education for adolescents.
        J Adolesc Health Care. 1985; 6: 383-386
        • Stern M
        • Northman JE
        • Van Slyck MR
        Father absence and adolescent “problem behaviors”: Alcohol consumption, drug use and sexual activity.
        Adolescence. 1984; 19: 301-312
        • Thornton A
        • Camburn D
        The influence of the family on premarital sexual attitudes and behavior.
        Demography. 1987; 24: 323-340
        • Udry JR
        • Billy JOG
        Initiation of coitus in early adolescence.
        Am Sociol Rev. 1987; 52: 841-855
        • Udry JR
        Biological predispositions and social control in adolescent sexual behavior.
        Am Sociol Rev. 1988; 53: 709-722
        • Whitbeck LB
        • Conger RD
        • Kao MY
        The influence of parental support, depressed affect and peers on the sexual behaviors of adolescent girls.
        J Fam Issues. 1993; 14: 261-278
        • Young EW
        • Jensen LC
        • Olsen JA
        • et al.
        The effects of family structure on the sexual behavior of adolescents.
        Adolescence. 1991; 26: 977-986
        • Zabin LS
        • Smith EA
        • Hirsch MB
        • et al.
        Ages of physical maturation and first intercourse in black teenage males and females.
        Demography. 1986; 23: 595-605