Exploring parent-gender differences in parent and adolescent reports of the frequency, quality, and content of their sexual health communication.
Scull, T. M., Carl, A. E., Keefe, E. M., and Malik, C. V. (2022). Exploring parent-gender differences in parent and adolescent reports of the frequency, quality, and content of their sexual health communication. Journal of Sex Research, 59(1), 122-134. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2021.1936439
Parent-adolescent sexual health communication (SHC) is a protective factor that can reduce adverse adolescent sexual health outcomes, and the frequency, quality, and content of SHC predicts its effectiveness. However, research on this topic has been limited in scope, overwhelmingly focused on mothers; and often has only included the parent or adolescent perspective, not both members of the dyad. Using secondary cross-sectional data, this study used ANCOVA, logistic regression, correlational, and chi-square analyses to investigate parent-gender differences in parent-adolescent SHC. Participants included 341 parent-adolescent dyads. Compared to fathers, mothers rated parent-adolescent SHC as more important and more comfortable, and had greater self-efficacy for and fewer reservations about SHC than fathers. Mothers also reported talking more frequently and more broadly with their child about sexual health than fathers. Adolescent-reported frequency, quality, and content of parent-adolescent SHC did not differ significantly by parent gender, except for one sexual health topic. Dyadic analyses revealed that mothers and their children tended to agree more in their reports of parent-adolescent SHC than fathers and their children. These findings suggest that fathers may need additional resources to help them confidently engage in effective parent-adolescent SHC.