Coming of age: how young women in the Northwest Territories understand the barriers and facilitators to positive, empowered, and safer sexual health

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2012 Jul 2;71:18957. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v71i0.18957.


Objectives: Compared to other young Canadians, youth in the Northwest Territories (NWT) suffer disproportionately from negative sexual health outcomes, including high rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies. This study aimed to identify the self-perceived barriers and facilitators to positive, empowered, and safer sexual health that impact female youth in the NWT.

Study design and methods: A total of 12 females aged 15-19 who live in the NWT were recruited through purposive sampling to participate in semi-structured, face-to-face interviews. Inductive coding and thematic analysis of transcribed data occurred using Atlas.ti.

Results: Overall 4 main themes influenced the sexual health of these women: sexual health knowledge, relationships with the self and others, access to quality sexual health resources, and alcohol use/abuse.

Conclusion: Recommendations for future action include improving the content and delivery of sexual health education, enhancing parent-adolescent sexual health communication, providing workshops to empower young women to assert themselves within relationships, and supporting an environment that normalizes youth sexuality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Northwest Territories
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Power, Psychological*
  • Reproductive Health*
  • Safe Sex*
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Young Adult