Opportunities for appropriate care: health care and contraceptive use among adolescents reporting unwanted sexual intercourse

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002 Apr;156(4):341-4. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.156.4.341.


Background: Unwanted sexual contact, reported by 30% to 42% of young women and 10% to 34% of young men, has been associated with negative health outcomes and increased teenaged pregnancy.

Objective: To determine health services and contraceptive use among adolescents reporting unwanted sexual intercourse.

Methods: Random-digit dial methods were used to survey 1040 adolescents in Monroe County, New York; 389 (37%) were sexually active and answered a question about whether they had ever been forced or pressured to have sexual intercourse. The data were weighted to reflect the county population.

Results: Among sexually active adolescents, 20% of females and 7% of males reported unwanted intercourse (P<.001). For 37% of male and 17% of female adolescents, the survey was the first time they had disclosed the incident (P =.17). Among female adolescents reporting unwanted intercourse, 91% have a usual source of care and 62% reported a well visit in the previous 6 months. Female adolescents reporting unwanted sex were more likely to have wanted contraceptives but not gotten them because of fear their parents would find out (32% vs 11%; P =.01) and to have had sex without contraception (69% vs 52%; P =.05) than those who had not had unwanted sex.

Conclusions: Many adolescents have been forced or pressured to have sexual intercourse. Although many have never told anyone about the incident, most have visited a primary care physician or clinician. Physicians and other clinicians should screen for a history of unwanted intercourse and provide needed referrals for counseling and/or contraceptive information.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Coitus* / psychology
  • Contraception / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unwanted
  • Surveys and Questionnaires