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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


PUENTE, Diana et al. Gender differences in sexual risk behaviour among adolescents in Catalonia, Spain. Gac Sanit [online]. 2011, vol.25, n.1, pp.13-19. ISSN 0213-9111.

Objective: To analyze the factors associated with sexual risk behavior in adolescent girls and boys in order to plan future school health interventions. Methods: A cross-sectional study with two-stage cluster sampling that included 97 schools and 9,340 students aged between 14 and 16 years old was carried out in 2005-2006 in Catalonia (Spain). For the survey, a self-administered paper-based questionnaire was used. The questionnaire contained items on sociodemographic variables, use of addictive substances and mood states, among other items. These variables were tested as risk factors for unsafe sexual behavior. Results: This study included 4,653 boys and 4,687 girls with a mean age of 15 years. A total of 38.7% of students had had sexual relations at least once and 82.3% of boys and 63.0% of girls were engaged in sexual risk behaviors. The prevalence of sexual relations and risk behaviors was generally higher in boys than in girls, independently of the variables analyzed. Boys had more sexual partners (P<.001) and used condoms as a contraceptive method less frequently than girls (P<.001). Foreign origin was related to unsafe sexual activity in both genders. Alcohol consumption was also a risk factor in boys. Conclusions: Sexual risk behaviors among adolescents in Catalonia are higher in boys than in girls. Factors related to unsafe sexual activity in boys were foreign origin and alcohol consumption. In girls only foreign origin was a significant risk factor.

Keywords : Adolescents; Gender; Health Surveys; Sexually Transmitted Diseases; Immigrants.

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