Young People More Likely To Use Condoms With Casual Partners Than With Main Partner, Study Says
Young people are more likely to use condoms with a casual sex partner than with their main partner, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, the New York Times reports (Nagourney, New York Times, 8/29). Celia Lescano -- a psychologist at the Bradley-Hasbro Children's Research Center in Providence, R.I., and an assistant professor at Brown Medical School -- and colleagues questioned 1,316 sexually active young people ages 15 to 21 from clinics in three major U.S. cities. The researchers in their survey assessed participants' condom use within the past 90 days, evaluated participants' sexual attitudes, questioned their substance use and gathered demographic data on the participants (Lescano et al., Journal of Adolescent Health, September 2006). The study finds that those with and without regular partners on average have the same amount of unprotected sex. This is in part explained because many young people who are in committed relationships still have sex with people outside of that relationship and, even if the young people use condoms with their casual partners, they likely will have unprotected sex with their main partner, according to the researchers. "Perhaps adolescents overestimate the safety of using condoms 'most of the time' with a casual partner and underestimate the risk of unprotected sex with a 'serious partner,'" the study says (New York Times, 8/29). The researchers said, "Interventions that do not target attitudes and practices related to casual partners as compared with main partners may miss an opportunity to change risk behaviors," concluding, "This study demonstrates the importance of understanding an adolescent's perception of partner types in order to design effective interventions" (Journal of Adolescent Health, September 2006).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.