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New Dir Child Adolesc Dev. 2014 Summer;2014(144):87-98. doi: 10.1002/cad.20062.

Healthy sex and sexual health: new directions for studying outcomes of sexual health.

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Human Development and Family Studies Department, Pennsylvania State University.


Sexual behavior is an important aspect of adolescent development with implications for well-being. These chapters highlight important perspectives on studying sexual health from a normative, developmental perspective, such as viewing a range of sexual behaviors as life events; considering potentially positive physical health, mental health, social health, and identity outcomes; examining both intraindividual and interindividual differences in outcomes; recognizing the romantic relationship context of sexual behavior; and understanding how sexual media may impact sexual health outcomes. We suggest new directions for studying sexual health outcomes, such as studying behaviors beyond vaginal sex and condom use, new methodologies such as latent class analysis, sophisticated longitudinal designs, and collection and analysis of dyadic data. We recommend research on populations underrepresented in sexual health research such as late adolescents who do not attend traditional universities and adolescents from ethnic/racial minorities. Finally, we consider future directions for sexuality education and prevention efforts.

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