Predictors of sexual involvement among adolescents in rural Jamaica

Jo Ana Stallworth, Michele Roofe, Leslie F. Clark, John E. Ehiri, Snigdha Mukherjee, Sharina Person, Pauline E. Jolly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Early sexual activity of adolescents is associated with increased risk of teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and higher maternal/perinatal morbidity and mortality. HIV and adolescent pregnancy are among the most serious public health problems in Jamaica. The objective of this study was to identify the potential predictors of adolescent sexual activity in Jamaica. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 788 students 13-19 years of age in Jamaica. A questionnaire containing items on socio-demographic characteristics such as age and gender, and scales on adolescent values about sexual activity, self-efficacy for abstinence, parental love, and depression were administered to adolescents at secondary schools in the parish of Hanover. Reliability analysis of the scales, descriptive statistics, and logistic regression to determine predictors of sexual activity were conducted. Approximately 62% of adolescents who responded reported previous sexual intercourse and 38% reported never having had sex. The mean age for sexual debut was 13.6 years. Logistic regression revealed delay values (values towards delaying sexual activity) as protective (OR=0.16, CI=0.09-0.26) against involvement in sexual activity. Risk factors for sexual activity included being older (OR=1.9, CI=1.50-2.50), being male (OR=2.26, CI=1.39-3.68) and having grown-up values (OR=1.49, CI=1.05-2.12). Contrary to expectations, having higher self-efficacy skills was predictive (OR=1.47, CI=1.05-2.05) of adolescent sexual involvement. Analyses by gender revealed that delay and grown-up values predicted male sexual activity, while self-efficacy, paternal love and delay values predicted female behavior. These findings show the importance of age, gender, self-efficacy, delay and grown-up values in predicting sexual activity in adolescents and indicate the need for gender-specific interventions for Jamaican adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-178
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004


  • Adolescents
  • Jamaica
  • Predictors
  • Sexual behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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