Risky Sexual Behaviors, Alcohol Use, and Drug Use: A Comparison of Eastern and Western European Adolescents
January 24, 2007
The authors undertook the current research to determine the extent to which cultural context moderated developmental processes -- "namely the patterns of association between low self-control, family processes, and three indicators of health-compromising behaviors (risky sexual behaviors, alcohol and drug use)" -- in adolescent samples: two from Eastern Europe and two from Western Europe.
A school-based questionnaire was administered to 7,291 middle and late adolescents in Hungary, Slovenia, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Students were asked to rate measures of self-control, family processes (closeness, support and monitoring), and health-compromising behaviors. A series of set hierarchical regression analyses and follow-up z-tests for comparisons of individual regression coefficients were conducted for data analysis.
The findings indicated low self-control was positively associated with all three measures of health-compromising behaviors "in a largely invariant fashion across countries." Differences were evident in developmental processes, where low self-control was more weakly associated with risky sexual behaviors in samples of both Eastern European countries as compared with Western European counties, "thus providing some evidence of idiosyncratic cultural norms." The researchers also found evidence "of mostly direct effects by family processes on measures of health-compromising behaviors. With two exceptions, no differences were observed in these effects across the four samples."
"Low self-control explains variability in health-compromising behaviors, especially in alcohol and drug use," the researchers concluded. "The observed differences in the link between low self-control and risky sexual behaviors may provide some evidence of distinct norms and values among Eastern European youth in comparison with Western European adolescents related to these behaviors."
Journal of Adolescent Health
11.06; Vol. 39; No. 5: P. 753e1-753e11; Alexander T. Vazsonyi, Ph.D.; Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo, M.S.; Li Huang, M.A.
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.