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Teenagers' Attitudes About Sex Similar Worldwide

Social factors must be taken into account in safe-sex programs aimed at teens

FRIDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Safe-sex programs aimed at young people must take into account social factors and teenagers' attitudes if they are to succeed, according to a study published in the Nov. 4 issue of The Lancet. The study found strong similarities between the factors that affect the sexual behavior of teens in different countries.

Cicely Marston, Ph.D., and Eleanor King, M.Sc., of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the U.K., conducted a meta-analysis of 268 qualitative studies on sexual behavior and young people to tease out the key themes from this field of study.

The same themes were present in all countries assessed, the authors note. "Social expectations, especially ideas about how men and women should behave, are a powerful influence on behavior; the influence of sexual partners is also considerable, as are young people's ideas about stigma and risk; and social pressures make it difficult to communicate clearly with partners, which makes safer sex less likely," they write.

Given that many of the studies covered the same ground, the authors recommend future studies need to have a broader scope, for example to further investigate deviance from expected behavior and forces of change in sexual behavior, as well as ask more detailed questions and focus on areas so far only covered in passing such as the relation between pleasure and sexual behavior.

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