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J Adolesc Health. 1999 Sep;25(3):207-16.

High school athletic participation, sexual behavior and adolescent pregnancy: a regional study.

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1
Department of Sociology, D'Youville College, Buffalo, New York 14201, USA.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To determine whether high school athletic participation among adolescents in Western New York was associated with reduced rates of sexual behavior and pregnancy involvement.

METHODS:

A secondary analysis of data from the Family and Adolescent Study, a longitudinal study of a random sample of adolescents (ages 13-16 years) from 699 families living in households in Western New York. A general population sample was obtained with characteristics closely matching the census distributions in the area. Interview and survey methods provided data on athletic participation, frequency of sexual relations during the past year, and risk for pregnancy. Bivariate correlations were used to examine relationships among athletic participation, demographic and control variables, and measures of sexual behavior and pregnancy rates. Next, path analyses were done in order to test for hypothesized relationships between athletic participation, sexual behavior, and pregnancy involvement while controlling for age, race, income, family cohesion, and non-athletic forms of extracurricular activity. Variables that were significantly associated with sexual behavior and/or pregnancy involvement were presented for both sexes within the resulting multivariate models.

RESULTS:

Lower income and higher rates of sexual activity were associated with higher rates of pregnancy involvement for both sexes. Family cohesion was associated with lower sexual activity rates for both sexes. For girls, athletic participation was directly related to reduced frequency of sexual behavior and, indirectly, to pregnancy risk. Male athletes did not exhibit lower rates of sexual behavior and involvement with pregnancy than male non-athletes. Boys who participated in the arts, however, did report lower rates of sexual behavior and, indirectly, less involvement with pregnancy.

CONCLUSIONS:

Female adolescents who participated in sports were less likely than their non-athletic peers to engage in sexual activity and/or report a pregnancy. Among male adolescents, athletic participation was unrelated to sexual behavior and pregnancy involvement. Teen pregnancy prevention efforts for girls should consider utilizing sport as a strategic tool.

PIP:

A longitudinal study using a random sample of adolescents, aged 13-16 years, was conducted in western New York to determine if athletic participation was associated with a reduced rate of sexual behavior and pregnancy. 699 families were interviewed and surveyed, and bivariate correlations were used to examine the relationships among athletic participation, demographic and control variables, and measures of sexual behavior and pregnancy rates. Findings showed that high rates of pregnancy involvement for both sexes were associated with low income and high sexual activity. Higher levels of family cohesion reduced rates of sexual activity for both sexes. Girls' athletic participation was directly proportional to reduced frequency of sexual behavior and, indirectly, to pregnancy risk. However, lower rates of sexual behavior and pregnancy involvement among adolescent male athletes were not discovered. Female adolescents who participated in sports were less likely than their nonathletic peers to engage in sexual activity and/or report a pregnancy. Among male adolescents, athletic participation was unrelated to sexual behavior and pregnancy involvement.

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PMID:
10475497
DOI:
10.1016/s1054-139x(99)00070-1
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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