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Fathers Independently Influence Teen Sexual Behavior

Communication about sex consistently associated with adolescent sexual behavior

MONDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- In addition to mothers, fathers also have an independent influence on adolescent sexual behavior, according to research published online Oct. 15 in Pediatrics.

Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Silver School of Social Work at New York University in New York City, and colleagues conducted a structured review to evaluate the role of paternal influence on adolescent sexual behavior. Thirteen studies published from 1980 to 2011 that targeted 11- to 18-year-olds were included.

The researchers found that, relative to maternal factors, paternal factors correlated independently with adolescent sexual behavior. The emotional quality of the father-adolescent relationship was the most frequently studied paternal influence. Paternal communication about sex correlated consistently with adolescent sexual behavior, and paternal attitudes to sex were least associated with sexual behaviors. Methodological limitations were identified and included a tendency to rely on cross-sectional design, nonprobability sampling methods, and a focus on sexual debut rather than broader behaviors.

"Our review makes clear that fathers have the potential to uniquely influence adolescent sexual behavior, yet have been overlooked in family-based intervention development," the authors write. "We argue for greater research to identify potential mechanisms of father-specific influence that will support successful development of father-based interventions and expand the opportunity to support adolescent health and well-being."

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