Associations between Religiosity and Sexual and Contraceptive Behaviors


Study Objective: To determine associations between religiosity and female adolescents' sexual and contraceptive behaviors. Design: We conducted a secondary analysis on data from a randomized controlled trial comparing interventions designed to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Multivariable modeling assessed the association between a religiosity index consisting of items related to religious behaviors and impact of religious beliefs on decisions and sexual outcomes. Participants: 572 female adolescents aged 13 to 21, recruited via a hospital-based adolescent clinic and community-wide advertisements. Main Outcome Measures: Sexual experience, pregnancy, STDs, number of lifetime partners, frequency of sexual activity, previous contraceptive use, and planned contraceptive use. Results: Mean participant age was 17.4 ± 2.2 years and 68% had been sexually active. Most (74.1%) had a religious affiliation and over half (52.8%) reported that their religious beliefs impact their decision to have sex at least " somewhat." Multivariate analyses showed that, compared with those with low religiosity, those with high religiosity were less likely to have had sexual intercourse (OR = 0.23, 95% CI = 0.14, 0.39). Among sexually active participants, those with high religiosity were less likely to have been pregnant (OR = 0.46, 95% CI = 0.22, 0.97), to have had an STD (OR = 0.42, 95% CI = 0.22, 0.81), or to have had multiple (≥4) lifetime partners (OR = 0.38, 95% CI = 0.21, 0.68) compared to those with low religiosity. Levels of religiosity were not significantly associated with frequency of intercourse, contraception use at last intercourse, or planned contraceptive use. Conclusion: In this cohort, religiosity appeared to be a protective factor rather than a risk factor with regard to sexual behavior and was not associated with contraception use. © 2010 North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.

Publication Title

Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology