The impact of depressive symptomatology on risky sexual behavior and sexual communication among African American female adolescents

Psychol Health Med. 2011 May;16(3):346-56. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2011.554562.


Adolescents, particularly African American adolescents, are at high risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The association between psychosocial factors and risky sexual behavior has been well established. However, only a small number of studies have examined the relationship between depressive symptomatology among African American female adolescents, specifically over time. The present study examined depressive symptoms as a predictor of risky sexual behavior, sexual communication, and STIs longitudinally among African American female adolescents between the ages 15 and 21. Binary generalized estimating equation models were conducted assessing the impact of depressive symptoms at baseline on risky sexual behavior and STIs over six- and 12-months follow-up. Age, intervention group, and baseline outcome measures were entered as covariates. The results indicated that high levels of depressive symptoms predicted no condom use during last sexual encounter and multiple sexual partners over six-months follow-up. Depressive symptoms also predicted having a main partner with concurrent partners, high fear of communication about condoms, and sex while high on alcohol or drugs over six- and 12-months follow-up. These findings could be used to inform HIV/STI prevention intervention programs and clinicians providing regular health care maintenance to African American female adolescents engaging in risky sexual behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Communication*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk-Taking
  • Self Report
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Bacterial / prevention & control
  • United States
  • Vaginal Smears
  • Young Adult