Development and Validation of the Sexual and Reproductive Empowerment Scale for Adolescents and Young Adults

J Adolesc Health. 2021 Jan;68(1):86-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.05.031. Epub 2020 Jul 17.


Purpose: We developed and validated a measure that assesses the latent construct of sexual and reproductive empowerment among adolescents and young adults. A specific measure for this group is critical because of their unique life stage and circumstances, which often includes frequent changes in sexual partners and involvement from parents in decision-making.

Methods: After formative qualitative research, a review of the literature, and cognitive interviews, we developed 95 items representing nine dimensions of sexual and reproductive empowerment. Items were then fielded among a national sample of young people aged 15-24 years, and those who identified as sexually active completed a 3-month follow-up survey. We conducted psychometric analysis and scale validation.

Results: Exploratory factor analysis on responses from 1,117 participants resulted in the Sexual and Reproductive Empowerment Scale for Adolescents and Young Adults, containing 23 items captured by seven subscales: comfort talking with partner; choice of partners, marriage, and children; parental support; sexual safety; self-love; sense of future; and sexual pleasure. Validation using logistic regression demonstrated that the subscales were consistently associated with sexual and reproductive health information and access to sexual and reproductive health services measured at baseline and moderately associated with the use of desired contraceptive methods at 3-month follow-up.

Conclusions: The Sexual and Reproductive Empowerment Scale for Adolescents and Young Adults is a new measure that assesses young people's empowerment regarding sexual and reproductive health. It can be used by researchers, public health practitioners, and clinicians to measure sexual and reproductive empowerment among young people.

Keywords: AYA; Adolescents; Autonomy; Parental support; Reproductive empowerment; Scale development; Self-efficacy; Self-love; Sense of future; Sexual health; Sexual pleasure; Sexual safety; Young adults; Young people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Contraception
  • Humans
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproductive Health
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Health*
  • Young Adult