Messages about abstinence, delaying sexual debut and sexual decision-making in conversations between mothers and young adolescents.
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<p><strong>STUDY OBJECTIVE: </strong>Little is known about the information shared during family discussions about sexuality. From a public health perspective, abstinence is one of the most important sexuality topics parents can talk with adolescents about. We sought to characterize the messages mothers communicate to young adolescents regarding abstinence.</p>
<p><strong>DESIGN: </strong>Content analysis of dyadic discussions that occurred between June 2011-December 2012 between mothers and their 10-14 years old adolescent sons and daughters. Discussions were audio-recorded, transcribed, and a grounded theory approach to content analysis performed.</p>
<p><strong>SETTING: </strong>Urban city in Western Pennsylvania INTERVENTIONS: None MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: None PARTICIPANTS: 21 dyads - 15 mother-daughter dyads and 6 mother-son dyads RESULTS: Four key themes emerged reflecting the high priority mothers placed on abstinence, delaying their adolescent's sexual debut and nurturing sexual decision making skills. Theme 1 focused on ensuring that adolescents understand what abstinence means. In defining abstinence, only one mother explained what sex is. The 3 remaining themes emphasized sexual decision making and emphasized when it is acceptable to stop being abstinent (Theme 2), why abstinence is important (Theme 3), and mothers' desire to engage in ongoing discussions, particularly once an adolescent was considering becoming sexually active (Theme 4). Messages did not vary by mothers' age or by adolescent age, gender or race.</p>
<p><strong>CONCLUSIONS: </strong>Mothers convey complex information about abstinence and sexual decision making to young, non-sexually active adolescents. Message tailoring based on the adolescents' age or sex was not observed.</p>
J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol