The impact of mother's health status on adolescent daughter's engagement in risky sexual behavior
Bentov, Leora T.
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The purpose of this study was (a) to determine what variance in the adolescent daughter's engagement in risky sexual behaviors could be explained by the mother's health status and selected independent variables, and (b) to determine which of two alternative models best fit data derived from “The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health” (Add Health) (Bearman, Jones, & Udry, 1997). The models included a moderated effects model and a mediated effects model. The daughter's pubertal status, daughter's perception of mother-daughter connectedness, mother-daughter shared activities, and adolescent depressed affect and anxiety acted both as moderator and mediator variables. Individual items from Wave 1 and Wave 2 of the in-home Add Health interviews were used to create the variables. The sample consisted of 711 menstruating, sexually experienced 13–20 year old adolescent females who resided in the same home with their mother. The majority of daughters were 15–17 year of age and of White non-Hispanic background. Eighty-six percent of mother reported good physical health and 14% reported poor health. Bivariate linear regression analysis indicated that the variance in risky sexual behavior was small and ranged from 1% (emotional distress variables) to 4.5% (shared activities). Pubertal status did not share any of the variance with the dependent variable. Hierarchical regression was used to examine the moderated effects model. No significant interaction effects emerged. However, there were consistent main effects of mother's health status and shared activities on risky sexual behavior. When controlling for race/ethnicity (White, Black, and Hispanic) a significant interaction of mother's health status and depressed affect emerged. Path analysis did not support a fully mediated effects model. However, the variable, mother-daughter shared activities, was a significant partial mediator in the relationship between mother's health status and daughter's engagement in risky sexual behaviors (z = 1.995, p < .05). Specifically, poorer maternal health status was associated with fewer shared activities, which, in turn predicted increased engagement in risky sexual behaviors. This model explained 7% of the variance of the dependent variable. In addition, shared activities, was a partial mediator of the relationship between mother's health status and depressed affect ( z = 3.089, p < .01). Due to several non-significant paths, a trimmed path model for this study is recommended.