Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine the reliability of sexual histories obtained from adolescents and the adequacy of chart documentation by providers of adolescent health care.
Methods: Responses to an interview by a female research assistant about sexual activity were compared to chart-documented sexual histories taken by physicians and nurse practitioners. The setting was an urban, hospital-based adolescent clinic. The subjects were 106 females, 15-18 years old; 82% were African-American and 18% Caucasian.
Results: Significant correlations between interview and chart were seen for information about menarche, age at first intercourse, number of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and number of sexual partners. Accuracy of reporting sexually transmitted infections varied according to the organism; HPV infection was underreported more than other infections. Chart documentation of sexual histories was inadequate.
Conclusions: Adolescents generally provide reliable sexual histories, but health care providers may not be documenting these histories adequately.