Social support and sexually transmitted disease related healthcare utilisation in sexually experienced African-American adolescents


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Abstract

Objective:To determine whether adolescents’ perceived social support predicts future utilisation of sexually transmitted disease (STD) related health care.Methods:A longitudinal study of African-American adolescents ages 12–18 recruited from a random sample of households in the San Francisco Bay area in which baseline data were collected by telephone and follow up data were collected by telephone or in-home audio computer assisted self interview. At baseline, participants were asked about their sexual behaviours, STD history, and social support. At follow up 14–18 months later, participants were asked whether they, while asymptomatic, had sought STD related medical care within the past year.Results:Asymptomatic sexually experienced adolescents who talked to their closest friend almost every day were more likely to have had STD related health care in the past year (odds ratio (OR) = 1.38; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.09, 1.76). Closeness to female and male parents/guardians and participation in extracurricular activities were not associated with utilisation of STD related health care within the past year. After controlling for age and sex, sexually experienced adolescents who talked to or saw their closest friend almost every day were more likely to have had STD related health care within the past year (OR = 1.35; 95% CI = 1.08 to 1.70).Conclusions:These findings suggest that friends have an impact on the seeking of confidential healthcare services, such as care for STDs.

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