An understanding of the association between adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health knowledge and their use of relevant services is needed to improve young people’s sexual and reproductive health.
Data from the National Survey of Family Growth were used to examine associations between sexual and reproductive health communication (parental and formal) and service use among 2,326 U.S. women aged 15–19 in 2002 and 2006–2008. Chi-square tests and multivariate logistic regression were used to assess relationships between adolescents’ receipt of sexual and reproductive health communication from parents and formal (school, church, community) sources and their use of sexual and reproductive health services.
The majority of adolescents had received parental (75%) and formal (92%) sexual and reproductive health communication; 43% reported recent service use. In unadjusted analyses, parental and formal communication were positively associated with service use. In regression models, overall parental communication remained positively associated with service use (odds ratio, 1.6); parental abstinence-only communication, which was not significant in 2002, was associated with reduced odds of service use for the pooled sample (0.4) and in 2006–2008 (0.3). Formal communication was not associated with service use.
Further research is needed to assess whether comprehensive sexual and reproductive health communication facilitates adolescents’ health care utilization. Examination of how communication sources, quality and content are related to service use is needed to understand adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health knowledge and needs.
Kelli Stidham Hall is postdoctoral research associate at the Center for Health and Wellbeing. Caroline Moreau is senior research scientist at Gender and Reproductive Health, Inserm, Paris. James Trussell is professor of economics and director, both at the Office of Population Research, Princeton University.