Teenager's sexual behavior and drinking style in Finland
School of Public Health University of Tampere Tampere, Finland
Reseach Unit Police College of Finland Tampere, Finland
Medical School University of Tampere - Faculty of Medicine Tampere, Finland
Background: Adolescent's early sexual activity and alcohol use have been widely recognised as a major public health problem. In this large-scale study we focused on the relationship between adolescent's sexual behavior and drinking style. Three aspects of sexual risk-taking were included: early activity, unprotected sexual intercourse, and having sex with multiple partners. Further, to obtain more comprehensive perception of adolescent alcohol use, we made the distinction between different drinking styles, i.e. alcohol drinking and drunkenness-related drinking.
Methods: Cross-sectional school survey data from School Health Promotion Study was collected in Finland in 2002-2003. The national sample consisted a total of 100.790 adolescents from the eight and ninth grades. Mean ages were 14.8 and 15.8 years. The SHPS questionnaire concentrates on adolescent's health and health-related behaviours, such as sexual behaviour and use of alcohol. To examine the association between sexual behavior and drinking style among teenagers, we used logistic regression analysis.
Results: The likelihood of engaging in sexual intercourse increased with the frequency of alcohol drinking among 14 to 16-year-old teenagers. In particular, frequent drunkenness-related drinking increased teenager's probability to report that they had experienced not only sexual intercourse, but to engaged in sexual risk-taking behaviors. We found that the likelihood of engaging in unprotected sex and/or having multiple sexual partners was many-fold for adolescents drinking frequently until they were in a state of drunkenness. Especially for girls, drunkenness-related drinking at least once a week was associated with multiple partners (OR=4.21, 95% CI=3.24-5.48).
Conclusions: Results confirmed that it is not the frequency of alcohol drinking per se, but it is the drunkenness-related drinking style that is strongly associated with sexual risk-taking behavior in adolescence. Consider the short- and long-term harms related to early sexual activity and alcohol drinking, further research and efficient interventions are needed. For instance, it could be effective to combine both alcohol education and sexual education in school settings to reduce both adolescents´alcohol use and various harms.