The role of mother-daughter sexual risk communication in reducing sexual risk behaviors among urban adolescent females: a prospective study

J Adolesc Health. 2003 Aug;33(2):98-107. doi: 10.1016/s1054-139x(03)00183-6.


Purpose: To prospectively examine the relationship between mother-daughter communication about sex and selected sexual risk behaviors among inner-city adolescent females.

Methods: Participants were 219 sexually experienced females, 12 to 19 years of age, recruited from an inner-city adolescent medicine clinic in Philadelphia, PA, and randomly assigned to the control group of an HIV-risk reduction intervention study. Analyses were limited to data from control group participants to avoid confounding intervention effects. Poisson regression was employed to model three self-reported sexual risk behaviors: number of male sexual partners, number of episodes of sexual intercourse, and number of episodes of unprotected intercourse. Mediation effects were evaluated using variables from the Theory of Planned Behavior. Data were analyzed using Poisson regression.

Results: Higher levels of mother-daughter sexual risk communication were associated with fewer episodes of sexual intercourse and unprotected intercourse at 3-month follow-up. There was evidence that the relationship of communication to unprotected intercourse was mediated by condom use self-efficacy. Mother-daughter sexual risk communication was not significantly associated with adolescents' reports of numbers of male sexual partner.

Conclusions: This prospective study supports the notion that mothers who communicate with their daughters about sex can affect their daughters' sexual behaviors in positive ways. These findings lend support for the design and implementation of family-based approaches to improve parent-adolescent sexual risk communication as one means of reducing HIV-related sexual risk behaviors among inner-city adolescent females.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Philadelphia
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Urban Population