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J Adolesc Health. 2001 Mar;28(3):235-41.

Adolescent contraceptive non-use and covariation among risk behaviors.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Cape Town, South Africa.



To investigate whether adolescent contraceptive non-use is associated with other risk behaviors.


A multistage sampling procedure produced a sample of 913 sexually active high school students. They completed a self-administered questionnaire that required mainly "yes" or "no" answers to questions involving participation in a range of risk behaviors. A series of multivariate logistic regression models investigated the relationships between contraceptive non-use and selected hypothesised correlates, controlling for key demographic variables.


Contraceptive non-use was not significantly associated with use of cigarettes, alcohol, or inhalants; perpetration or being a victim of violence; exposure to risk of physical injury; and suicidality. For males only, there was a significant inverse association between contraceptive non-use and use of cannabis in the previous month. This was not the case for lifetime cannabis use for either gender. There was a significant inverse relationship between contraceptive non-use and knowing the most recent partner for more than 7 days, but no association for the number of partners nor duration since the last intercourse. For females only, there was a significant inverse association between contraceptive non-use and both age and age of first intercourse.


This study does not support the hypothesis that contraceptive non-use is a component of the "risk behavior syndrome." Decisions to participate in intercourse and to use contraception have different psychosocial foundations. Prevention efforts should prioritize relationships with new partners and younger girls who commence intercourse early.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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