Results from a baseline survey of Native American youth participating in a teen pregnancy prevention program in a rural reservation-based community show that young people’s intention to have sex is the strongest predictor of sexual initiation.
The findings, published in The Journal of Primary Prevention, were collected from 267 American Indian youth ages 13-19 who participated in Respecting the Circle of Life, a program that aims to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
The paper was written by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for American Health, which is based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Lauren Tingey, associate director, the Center for American Indian Health, is lead author. Co-authors include Ms. Rachel Chambers, Dr. Summer Rosenstock, Ms. Francene Larzelere, Ms. Novalene Goklish, Ms. Angelita Lee and Dr. Anne Rompalo.
The survey showed that a young person’s intention to remain abstinent until marriage, as well as their confidence in being able to correctly use condoms (self-efficacy), were the most significant factors among those who report never having had sex. The results also showed, unsurprisingly, that older youth and those with an intention to have sex are more likely to be sexually experienced. Findings suggest that teen pregnancy prevention programs for Native youth should focus on changing intentions to have sex and improving skills and confidence around condom use, in order to have the greatest impact on delaying sexual initiation. Survey results also indicate that teen pregnancy prevention programs may be more effective when they engage teens in groups according to their age, such as 13-15 and 16-19.