Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Sch Health. 2013 Nov;83(11):787-94. doi: 10.1111/josh.12095.

Abstinence-related word associations and definitions of abstinence and virginity among missouri high school freshmen.

Author information

  • 1Associate Professor, (, Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.



The ways in which adolescents define and view sex, abstinence, and virginity impact the efforts of sexuality educators and sexual health professionals. This study examined terminology used by nonsexually active high school students to define abstinence and virginity and identified words students associate with these terms. Purposes included (1) describing words/phrases associated with abstinence; (2) describing phrases for "being abstinent until marriage" and "being a virgin;" (3) assessing concordance between word dyads associated with abstinence; and (4) assessing concordance between phrases defining "abstinent until marriage" and "a virgin."


In this study, 216 freshmen provided information about beliefs, behaviors, and perceptions. Pearson chi-square tests and Wilcoxon sign-rank tests assessed sex-based differences, definitions, and levels of concordance were conducted.


Girls' friends took an abstinence pledge (p = .004) and their parents (p = .025) and best friends (p < .001) think they should abstain. Male counterparts reported being dissatisfied with current sex status (p = .002) and high acceptance of sex before marriage (p = .011). Boys were more likely to endorse "negative" words than girls.


Professionals need to use relevant materials incorporating terminology that resonates with adolescents and programs that engage coherent participant discussions.

© 2013, American School Health Association.


abstinence; adolescents; virginity

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Blackwell Publishing
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk