Factors Influencing Youth Sexual Activity: Conceptual Models for Sexual Risk Avoidance and Cessation

Factors Influencing Youth Sexual Activity: Conceptual Models for Sexual Risk Avoidance and Cessation

OPRE Research Brief #2020-153
Published: Dec 30, 2020
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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This brief presents two complementary conceptual models—one for sexual risk avoidance and a second for sexual risk cessation—that aim to guide efforts to prevent youth risk behaviors and promote optimal health. Building on an earlier brief that presented initial versions of the conceptual models, this brief describes refined versions of the conceptual models enhanced through additional information and analysis. Each model focuses on a set of outcomes that reflect the behavioral context for the target population of youth. The sexual risk avoidance model focuses on outcomes for sexually inexperienced youth related to delaying sexual initiation. The sexual risk cessation model focuses on outcomes for sexually experienced youth related to discontinuing sexual activity.

The models identify a range of factors that research shows may influence youth decision making, sexual behavior, and related outcomes. The conceptual models include only those factors with empirical evidence linking them to relevant outcomes related to sexual risk avoidance or cessation. The influencing factors occur at the environmental, interpersonal, or individual level, and many can be modified through intervention. To this end, practitioners, developers, policymakers, and researchers may use the models to guide and support efforts to develop and refine programs, tailor educational messages to youth, and identify topics for future research.

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