Trends in sexual health and risk behaviours among adolescent students in British Columbia

Saewyc, Elizabeth M.; Taylor, Darlene; Homma, Yuko; Ogilvie, Gina
March 2008
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality;2008, Vol. 17 Issue 1/2, p1
Academic Journal
Regular monitoring of trends in sexual health and sexual behaviours among adolescents provides strong evidence to guide intervention programs and health policies. Using the province-wide, school-based British Columbia (BC) Adolescent Health Surveys of 1992, 1998, and 2003, this study documented the trends in sexual health and risk behaviours among adolescents in grades 7 to 12 in BC, and explored the associations between sexual behaviours and key risk and protective factors. From 1992 to 2003, the percentage of youth who had ever had sexual intercourse decreased for both males (33.9% to 23.3%) and females (28.6% to 24.3%) and the percentage who used a condom at last intercourse increased for both males (64.4% to 74.9%) and females (52.9% to 64.2%). Among students who had ever had sexual intercourse, the percentage who had first intercourse before age 14 decreased for both sexes. These encouraging results may be related in part to concurrent decreases in the prevalence of sexual abuse or forced intercourse among both male and female adolescents. Protective factors such as feeling connected to family or school were also associated with lower odds of having engaged in risky sexual behaviours. These findings emphasize the importance of including questions about adolescent sexual health behaviours, risk exposures, and protective factors on national and provincial youth health surveys, to monitor trends, inform sexual health promotion strategies and policies, and to document the effectiveness of population-level interventions to foster sexual health among Canadian adolescents.


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