Applying a Multifactorial Communication Framework to Better Understand Differences between Father-daughter and Mother-daughter Sexual Health Discussions

J Health Commun. 2019;24(7-8):633-642. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2019.1651428. Epub 2019 Aug 13.


While the literature on parent-child sexual communication among adolescent girls is robust overall, research that is specifically focused on communication between fathers and daughters is more limited. Further, there have been calls for work on parent-child sexual communication to be situated within a multi-factorial conceptual framework that distinguishes between different communication components, such as the communication source, content, frequency, quality, and timing. Using such a framework, this study examined aspects of father-daughter sexual communication as they compare to mother-daughter communication in a diverse sample of 193 girls (Mage = 15.62). Results highlighted several gaps between father-daughter and mother-daughter communication. Girls reported covering less content and communicating less frequently about sexual topics with their fathers compared to their mothers. Girls also reported being less comfortable communicating and found their discussions to be less helpful with fathers than mothers. Girls were also less likely to report communicating with fathers about sexual topics before their sexual debut than with mothers. No significant differences were found in communication style (i.e., conversational or like a lecture) between fathers or mothers. Results highlight the importance of understanding the multifaceted process of parent-child communication and signal the need for targeted intervention efforts to improve upon father-daughter communication.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Communication*
  • Father-Child Relations*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Sexual Health*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires