Contextual Factors Influencing Sexual Activity within Adolescent Social Networks in a Micropolitan/Rural Area

Deladem Kusi-Appouh, Cornell University

This paper examines factors influencing sexual activity among 15-19 year-olds from a micropolitan/rural area, recruited by peers through Participant-Driven Recruitment, a methodology that combines participatory research with Respondent-Driven Sampling. Using the social network derived from recruiting as the unit of analysis, findings indicate that adolescents who: engaged in alcohol, drug and tobacco use; who were older; and who communicated with adults about alcohol, drugs, pregnancy, sex, and STDs were more likely to engage in sexual activity. Social network characteristics generated using RDS analysis software show moderate to substantial homophily (tendency of similar persons to form social ties) among the adolescents. Graphics of the social network are also included, providing greater insight into the contextual and reciprocal nature of social ties. Social structures beyond dyadic relationships are explored, illuminating distinctive influences not likely to be captured by conventional statistical methods alone, offering complementary data seldom found in studies regarding non-metropolitan adolescents.

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Presented in Session 129: Nontraditional Data Collection Methods