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Adolescents, Families, Resilience, Risk-taking



  1. Tuttle, Jane PhD, APRN, BC, FNP
  2. Landau, Judith MD, DPM, CFLE
  3. Stanton, M. Duncan PhD
  4. King, Kathleen Utter MS, CNM
  5. Frodi, Ann PhD


Purpose: To more fully understand the associations between family variables and sexual behavior of young women.


Study Design and Methods: Forty-two female clients of an urban youth agency (16 to 25 years of age) were interviewed about intergenerational stories and contact with extended families. Individuation was measured by self-report using the intergenerational individuation subscale of the Personal Authority in the Family System Questionnaire. Self-report questions were used to gain information about the young women's sexual risk behavior. Data were analyzed using Pearson correlation, independent t-tests, and multiple regression. Family stories were analyzed for themes of resilience or vulnerability.


Results: Young women who perceived their connection with previous generations in a resilient light tended to be more individuated and report less risky sexual behaviors.


Clinical implications: These results may give direction in the design of family interventions for reducing sexual risk taking and enhancing positive health behavior. Interventions would include promoting a healthy degree of attachment between adolescents and their families, exploration of family of origin issues, and referral for more intensive services when needed.