Comparison of sexual partnership characteristics and associations with inconsistent condom use among a sample of adolescents and adult women diagnosed with Chlamydia trachomatis

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2009 Mar;18(3):393-9. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2008.0840.


Background: This analysis compared characteristics of female adolescent and adult sexual partnerships and related these characteristics to inconsistent condom use.

Methods: Data are from a study of 126 women with prevalent chlamydia infections who reported information about 172 sexual partnerships in the previous 3 months. Characteristics of sexual partnerships included type of partner (main vs. other), duration of sexual relationship (<3 months vs. > or =3 months), partner age difference (<2 years older vs. > or =2 years older), and two scale measures: overlap of social networks (a measure based on how well the participant knew her partner's friends, for example) and intimacy.

Results: Compared with adult partnerships, adolescent partnerships were of shorter duration and had less social overlap but were more likely to be classified by the participants as main partnerships. Among adolescents, longer partnership duration was not associated with higher intimacy, yet higher intimacy was significantly correlated with inconsistent condom use.

Conclusions: These differences suggest that adolescent females perceive and characterize their sexual relationships differently from adults. This, in turn, may have implications for risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Prevention efforts for adolescents, including interventions and counseling, should consider the nature of their sexual partnerships.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Adult
  • Chlamydia Infections / epidemiology*
  • Chlamydia Infections / psychology
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Contraception Behavior / psychology
  • Contraception Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult