Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Does Gender Moderate the Relationship between Polydrug Use & Sexual Risk-Taking among Australian Secondary School Students Under 16 Years of Age?

This study examines the association of alcohol and polydrug use with risky sexual behaviour in adolescents under 16 years of age and if this association differs by gender.

The sample consisted of 5412 secondary school students under 16 years of age from Victoria, Australia. Participants completed an anonymous and confidential survey during class time. The key measures were having had sex before legal age of consent (16 years), unprotected sex before 16 (no condom) and latent-class derived alcohol and polydrug use variables based on alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, inhalants and other illegal drug use in the past month.

There were 7.52% and 2.55% of adolescents who reported having sex and having unprotected sex before 16 years of age, respectively. After adjusting for antisocial behaviours, peers' drug use and family and school risk factors, girls were less likely to have unprotected sex (odds ratio = 0.31, P = 0.003). However, the interaction of being female and polydrug use (odds ratio = 4.52, P = 0.004) was significant, indicating that girls who engaged in polydrug use were at higher risk of having unprotected sex. For boys, the effect of polydrug use was non-significant (odds ratio = 1.44, P = 0.310). Discussion and Conclusions For girls, polydrug use was significantly associated with unprotected sex after adjusting for a range of risk factors, and this relationship was non-significant for boys. Future prevention programs for adolescent risky sexual behaviour and polydrug use might benefit from a tailored approach to gender differences.

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By:  Chan GC1Kelly AB1Hides L1,2Quinn C1,2Williams JW3,4,5,6.
  • 1Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
  • 2Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.
  • 3School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.
  • 4Centre for Adolescent Health, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.
  • 5Population Health Studies of Adolescents and Health Services Delivery for Adolescents, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia.
  • 6Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
  •  2016 Mar 23. doi: 10.1111/dar.12394. 

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