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Clin Psychol Rev. 2001 Jun;21(4):493-519.

Adolescent sexual risk behavior: a multi-system perspective.

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Institute for Behavioral Research, University of Georgia, Room 111, Barrow Hall, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


Adolescents are at high risk for a number of negative health consequences associated with early and unsafe sexual activity, including infection with human immunodeficiency virus, other sexually transmitted diseases, and unintended pregnancy. As a result, researchers have attempted to identify those factors that influence adolescent sexual risk behavior so that meaningful prevention and intervention programs may be developed. We propose that research efforts so far have been hampered by the adoption of models and perspectives that are narrow and do not adequately capture the complexity associated with the adolescent sexual experience. In this article, we review the recent literature (i.e., 1990-1999) pertaining to the correlates of adolescent sexual risk-taking, and organize the findings into a multisystemic perspective. Factors from the self, family, and extrafamilial systems of influence are discussed. We also consider several methodological problems that limit the literature's current scope, and consider implications of the adoption of a multisystemic framework for future research endeavors. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of the available research for practitioners working to reduce sexual risk behavior among adolescents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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