Knowledge of sexually transmitted infections among adolescents in the Houston area presenting for reproductive healthcare at Texas Children's Hospital

J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2012 Jun;25(3):213-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpag.2012.02.005.


Objective: Studies indicate a deficiency in knowledge of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among adolescents, yet adolescents comprise 25% of the sexually active (SA) population and account for 48% of STIs acquired annually. This survey assesses knowledge of STIs among adolescent females. The goal of this study was to assess knowledge of STIs and how it relates to safe sex behaviors and educational access.

Design: A confidential 10-question STI survey was administered to a convenience sample of female adolescents. Data analysis included descriptive statistics, chi-square analysis, and linear regression analysis.

Setting: Texas Children's Hospital Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology Clinic.

Interventions: None.

Participants: Seventy-five female participants between the ages of 10-21 years.

Main outcome measures: Age, sexual activity, educational access, preferred methods of risk reduction and questions answered correctly on the STI survey.

Results: The mean age of participants was 14.9 ± 2.4 years; mean age of menarche was 10.9 ± 2.9 years. Based on survey responses, all adolescents demonstrated similar knowledge of specific STIs regardless of demographic factors. However, middle and late adolescent groups had increased awareness of STIs. SA participants (36%) were more likely to choose 2 or more methods of risk reduction compared to non-SA participants (P = 0.014). There was no correlation between educational access and preferred methods of risk reduction even though 92% of respondents reported receiving STI education from school, parents, or peers.

Conclusions: Current efforts at STI education are not effective. Different approaches to STI education are necessary to increase knowledge and motivate adolescents to reduce high risk behaviors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Models, Psychological
  • Pilot Projects
  • Reproductive Health Services
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Safe Sex*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Texas
  • Young Adult