Purpose Previous research has shown that frequent alcohol and drug use is associated with sexual intercourse at an earlier age, frequency of sex, and unprotected sex in teens. The goal of the current study was to examine if teens who report having had sex are more likely to also report using alcohol/drugs than teens who have not had sex.
Methods This study was part of a larger randomized control study to increase Chlamydia screening in adolescents. Two N. California Kaiser Permanente pediatric clinics participated in the current study. Self-report surveys were administered to all 14-18 year old adolescents seen for urgent care visits. The survey was anonymous, voluntary, and brief with 12 questions in total (age, gender, ethnicity, sexual activity). Questions regarding the teen's sexual activity, lifetime and 30-day use of drugs and alcohol were worded similarly to those on the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey. A research assistant approached teens after their urgent care visit, received verbal consent, and gave the survey to the teen; the teen completed the survey, dropped in a 1-way collection box, and received a coupon for an ice cream as a thank you for participation. Human Use Committees approved this study.
Results A total of 81 teens completed the survey (48 F and 33 M). The response rate was 85%. The sample was ethnically diverse and was composed of 31% Latino/a, 19% mixed ethnicity, 17% Asian, 15% Pacific Islander, and 11% Caucasian. The mean age was 15.5 years for males and 15.6 years for females. Self-reported sexual activity rates were 25% for females and 36% for males. Teens who report ever having sex are also more likely to report having used alcohol (lifetime and 30-day) than those who did not (p = .001). Teens who report ever having sex are also more likely to report having used drugs (lifetime and 30-day) than those who did not (p = .001). No significant gender differences were found.
Conclusions Teens who reported using alcohol (30-day and lifetime) also reported being sexually active. This is consistent with prior research showing that adolescent risk-taking behaviors cluster together. Since we have found that nearly two-thirds of teens who visit their pediatric provider in any given year do so in the context of an urgent care visit, more research is needed to identify strategies to assess adolescent health risks in the context of urgent care visits.
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