The study also showed that teenage females who rarely talked with the partners about pregnancy and STD prevention were also 50 percent less likely to report condom use during recent sexual episodes, says Richard A. Crosby, Ph.D., of the Rollins School of Public Health and the Emory Center for AIDS Research in Atlanta.
This finding is consistent with previous research that has shown poor communication is associated with low condom-use rates. Studies suggest that communication between sex partners may be an important determinant of condom use among young adults and, by extension, among adolescents, Crosby says in the study published in the March issue of Health Education & Behavior.
Of the 522 sexually active teenage females who participated in the study, those who rarely spoke with their parent or parents about sexual issues were four times less likely to talk to their partners about condom use, as well, the study shows.
The study participants were recruited from adolescent medicine clinics, health department clinics and high-school health classes, in Birmingham, Alabama. One quarter of the teens reported have a past sexually transmitted infection and more than half had been or were currently pregnant. The majority of the girls, 82 percent, reported having sex solely with a steady partner over the previous six months.
Parents who are willing to talk to their adolescent daughters about sex and sex-related issues may help children gain the motivation and courage to discuss safe sex techniques with sexual partners, the researchers say.
Because the sequelae of STD infection in women are especially problematic and costly, prevention efforts specifically tailored for this population are particularly important, says Crosby.