Patterns of sexual partnerships among adolescent females

J Adolesc Health. 1999 May;24(5):300-3. doi: 10.1016/s1054-139x(98)00145-1.


Objective: To develop a multidimensional classification of sexual partnerships.

Methods: Eighty-two female subjects (ages 15-20 years; 77% African American) used coital logs to record dates of 1265 coital events, partner initials, and condom use. Logs were collected at 1-, 3-, 9-, 15-, and 21-month return visits. Three adolescent health professionals independently classified partnership patterns of each subject; classification schemes were revised until complete consensus for each subject was obtained.

Results: Complete agreement in partnership classification was reached after 3 rounds. The consensus partnership classification had three dimensions: number (1, > or = 2 partners), pattern (1 partner, serially exclusive, concurrent), and duration (any partnership < or = 21 days, all partnerships >21 days). A total of 34 of 82 (34%) of subjects had > or = 2 partners; 11 of 34 (32%) had concurrent partnerships. Twenty of 82 (24%) had only partnerships lasting >21 days. Condom use was less common for subjects in only longer-term (>21 days) partnerships, but did not significantly vary by number or pattern.

Conclusion: Multiple dimensions of adolescent sexual partnerships may be identified. Detailed research and clinical assessments along these dimensions may improve understanding of protective behaviors such as condom use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / classification
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Self Disclosure
  • Sexual Behavior / classification*
  • Sexual Partners / classification*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / psychology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / transmission
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Women's Health