Home > Macro-level age norms for the timing of sexual initiation and adolescents' early sexual initiation in 17 European countries.

Madkour, Aubrey Spriggs and de Looze, Margaretha and Ma, Ping and Halpern, Carolyn Tucker and Farhat, Tilda and Ter Bogt, Tom F M and Ehlinger, Virginie and Nic Gabhainn, Saoirse and Currie, Candace and Godeau, Emmanuelle (2014) Macro-level age norms for the timing of sexual initiation and adolescents' early sexual initiation in 17 European countries. Journal of Adolescent Health , 55 , (1) , pp. 114-121.

PURPOSE
To examine the relationship between country-level age norms for sexual initiation timing and early sexual initiation (ESI) among adolescent boys and girls.

METHODS
Nationally representative data from 17 countries that participated in the 2006/2007 European Social Survey (ESS-3, n = 33,092) and the 2005/2006 Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children Study (HBSC, n = 27,702) were analyzed. Age norms were measured as the average country-level response to an item asking the age at which ESS respondents believed someone is too young to have sexual intercourse. HBSC respondents (aged 14-16 years) self-reported age at sexual initiation, which we defined as early (<15 years) or not early (≥15 years or no initiation). Control variables included age, family affluence, perceived socioeconomic status, family living arrangement, substance use, school attachment, and country-level legal age of consent. Multivariable three-level logistic models with random intercepts were run separately by sex.

RESULTS
In multivariable analyses, higher overall age norms were associated with reduced likelihood of ESI among girls (AOR .60, 95% CI .45-.79); associations with ESI were stronger for parent cohort (ages 31-65 years) norms (AOR .37, 95% CI .23-.58) than for peer cohort (ages 15-20 years) norms (AOR .60, 95% CI .49-.74). For boys, overall norms were also significantly negatively associated with ESI (AOR .68, 95% CI .46-.99), as were parent cohort norms (AOR .66, 95% CI .45-.96). Peer cohort norms were not significantly related to boys' ESI.

CONCLUSION
Macrolevel cultural norms may impact adolescents' sexual initiation timing. Research exploring the sexual health outcomes of early initiators in countries with contrasting age norms is warranted.


Item Type:Article
Date:July 2014
Page Range:pp. 114-121
Publisher:Elsevier
Volume:55
Number:1
EndNote:View
Related URLs:
Subjects:F Concepts in psychology > Specific attitude and behaviour > risk-taking behaviour
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Health-related prevention > Health information and education > Communicable disease control > Safe sex
T Demographic characteristics > Adolescent / youth (teenager / young person)
VA Geographic area > Europe
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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