July 27, 2011
While young adults have high rates of unintended childbearing and STD infection, the authors noted that little research has examined how relationship characteristics affect their contraceptive use. Data from the 2002-05 rounds of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth yielded a sample of 4,014 dating relationships among sexually active 18- to 26-year-olds. Associations between relationship characteristics and contraceptive use at last sex were assessed by bivariate analysis and multivariate logistic and multinomial logistic regressions.
Use of a contraceptive method at last intercourse was reported in three-quarters of the relationships. A condom only was used in 26 percent of relationships; a hormonal method only was used in 26 percent; and dual methods were used in 23 percent.
When compared with relationships in which first sex occurred within two months of starting to date, those who first had sex before dating were more likely to have used any method at last sex (odds ratio, 1.4), especially condoms or dual methods (relative risk ratio, 1.5 for each). The relative risk of using a hormonal method only, versus no method or condoms alone, grew with relationship duration (1.01) and level of intimacy (1.1-1.2).
"Discussing marriage or cohabitation was associated with reduced odds of having used any method (0.7) and a reduced relative risk of having used condoms alone or dual methods (0.6 for each)," the authors wrote. "Increasing levels of partner conflict and asymmetry were also linked to reduced odds of any method use (0.97 and 0.90, respectively).
"Prevention programs should address relationship context in contraceptive decision making, perhaps by combining relationship and sex education curricula to foster communication and negotiation skills," the team concluded.
Perspectives on Sexual & Reproductive Health
06.01.2011; Vol. 43; No. 2: doi:10.1363/4311911; Jennifer Manlove
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