Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Sub-Department

Epidemiology

First Advisor

Melinda Forthofer

Abstract

Background: Adolescents continue to bear the burden of sexually transmitted diseases suggesting that innovative solutions to safe sexual health behaviors must be discovered to help reduce the rates of sexually transmitted diseases in this population. Research has suggested that adolescents are influenced by peer relationships, and the behaviors in which their peers participate. This study aims to examine the relationship between social capital and adolescent sexual initiation, condom use, and sexually transmitted infections. Methods: Secondary data analysis was conducted using nominated friendship data from Waves I and II of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Wave I data was used to create behavior proportions within the immediate and broader peer groups used to estimate bonding and bridging social capital. Outcomes for sexual initiation, condom use, and sexually transmitted diseases were assessed at Wave II. Logistic regression analyses were conducted for each outcome and predictor variable. Additional analyses for determining the association of the immediate peer group's effects on adolescent sexual behaviors included a sensitivity analysis and simulation/extrapolation analysis to determine the effects of missingness on each estimate. Results: The findings suggest a positive association for the relationships between bonding social capital and adolescent sexual initiation, bridging social capital and adolescent sexual initiation, and bridging social capital and adolescent STI status. Other findings for the associations of bonding social capital and adolescent condom use, bridging social capital and condom use, and bonding social capital and adolescent STI status were non-significant. Conclusion: This study helps to illustrate the differential effects of bonding and bridging social capital on adolescent sexual behaviors, and indicate the potential for targeted interventions at these different sources to help reduce the burden of STIs among adolescents.

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