Predictors of timely initiation of gynecologic care among urban adolescent girls

J Adolesc Health. 2006 Aug;39(2):183-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2005.11.022.


Purpose: To determine whether or not critical sexual health services are delivered to low-income girls, and to identify predictors of timely initiation of gynecologic care for sexually active adolescent girls. Few studies have addressed the interval between sexual debut and risk-appropriate primary care services.

Methods: We conducted an anonymous, cross-sectional, laptop-based, self-administered branching survey of 9th-12th grade girls in three Bronx public high schools (n = 819).

Results: Over half (60.0%) had an opportunity for confidential care at last clinical visit. Only 27% of sexually active girls had informed any clinician that they had been sexually active; 45% had ever had a pelvic exam. The mean interval between sexual debut and initial pelvic exam (our proxy for gynecologic care) was 13.3 months (range = 0-70 months, SD = 11.8 months). Cox proportional hazard modeling identified four predictors of time to first pelvic exam: experience of sexually transmitted infection (STI) or pregnancy (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.9), having disclosed sexual activity to any clinician (HR = 1.7), access to confidential care (HR = 3.1), and high self-efficacy for accessing confidential care (HR = 2.1).

Conclusions: Most sexually active girls have not told a clinician that they are sexually active and many have not had counseling related to sexual health. Delay between sexual debut and initial pelvic exam is substantial for low-income urban girls, and often occurs in reaction to pregnancy or STI. Setting of usual care does not predict timely gynecologic care, but access to confidential care does.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Confidentiality
  • Counseling
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Gynecology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • New York
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control
  • Truth Disclosure
  • Urban Population