Family Influences on Adolescents Sexual Health: Synthesis of the Research and Implications for Clinical Practice
Ralph J. DiClemente, Richard A. Crosby and Laura F. Salazar
Affiliation: Rollins School of Public Health,Rm. 554, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 0322,USA.
Emerging empirical evidence indicates that parenting strategies can have a substantial impact on their adolescents sexual health. Three critical parenting strategies: monitoring their adolescents, engaging them in frequent communication about sex, and, providing familial support may afford protection against their adolescents engaging in sexual risk behaviors, and consequently, reducing adolescents risk of adverse sexual health outcomes such as unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases including human immunodeficiency virus infection. Family-based interventions can successfully enhance the adoption of all of these protective strategies; however, pediatricians routinely come into contact with parents and their adolescents. Pediatricians can therefore serve as an authoritative source of information and motivation by encouraging parents to monitor their children more closely, enhance parent-adolescent communication about sexual health and encourage a more supportive family environment to enhance the likelihood that adolescents will adopt and maintain sexual health promotion practices. In addition, pediatricians can provide parents with an information prescription (IP) to assist them in acquiring information via the Internet on adolescent sexual health and risks, and on the three critical parenting protective strategies. Thus, pediatricians represent an important and, perhaps, cost-effective intervention point with parents who in turn can protect the sexual health of their adolescents.
Keywords: Parental monitoring, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), pregnancy, pediatrician-parent interactions, parent-adolescent communication
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