Virginity Pledges Among the Willing: Delays in First Intercourse and Consistency of Condom Use
September 30, 2008
The authors sought to examine longitudinal relationships between virginity pledging in adolescence and both sexual initiation and condom use. Previous studies showed mixed results and may not adequately control for pre-pledge differences between pledgers and non-pledgers, they noted.
Data from a national sample of 12- to 17-year-olds surveyed in 2001 and followed-up at one and three years were used for logistic regression models estimating the association between making a pledge and each outcome. Propensity-score weighting and a rich set of demographic and psychosocial covariates were employed to reduce selection bias.
Pre-existing characteristics differed substantially between pledgers and non-pledgers. However, after propensity weighting and statistical controls, pledging continued to be associated with delayed intercourse. In the absence of pledging, an estimated 42.4 percent of virgins with characteristics indicating an inclination to pledge initiate intercourse within three years. In the presence of the pledge, 33.6 percent of such youth initiate intercourse. Pledging was unassociated with condom use in those who had sex during this period. Among those who did not have intercourse during this period, pledging was unassociated with engagement in non-coital sexual behavior.
"Making a virginity pledge appears to be an effective means of delaying sexual intercourse initiation among those inclined to pledge without influencing other sexual behavior; pledging does not appear to affect sexual safety among pledgers who fail to remain abstinent," the researchers concluded.
Journal of Adolescent Health
09.2008; Vol. 43; No. 4 P. 341-348; Steven C. Martino, Ph.D.; Marc N. Elliott, Ph.D.; Rebecca L. Collins, Ph.D.; David E. Kanouse, Ph.D.; Sandra H. Berry, M.A.
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.