Adolescents can know best: using concept mapping to identify factors and pathways driving adolescent sexuality in Lima, Peru

Soc Sci Med. 2010 Jun;70(12):2085-2095. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.03.001. Epub 2010 Mar 16.


The primary objective of this study was to identify and describe individual- and environmental-level factors that Peruvian adolescents perceive to be related to adolescent sexuality. A series of concept mapping sessions were carried out from January-March 2006 with 63 15-17 year olds from a low-income community near Lima in order for adolescents to: (1) brainstorm items that they thought were related to sexuality, (2) sort, group and rate items to score their importance for sexuality-related outcomes, and (3) create pathways from the groups of items to engaging in sex. Brainstorming resulted in 61 items, which participants grouped into 11 clusters. The highest rated clusters were personal values, respect and confidence in partner relationships, future achievements and parent-child communication. The pathway of decision-making about having sex primarily contained items rated as only moderately important. This study identified important understudied factors, new perspectives on previously-recognized factors, and possible pathways to sexual behavior. These interesting and provocative findings underscore the importance of directly integrating adolescent voices into future sexual and reproductive health research, policies and programs that target this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Aspirations, Psychological
  • Concept Formation*
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Peru
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Social Values
  • Socioeconomic Factors