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Sexual abstinence, Qualitative research, Adolescents, African American, Sexuality



  1. Haglund, Kristin PhD, RN, APRN, BC


Purpose: To explore the perspectives of teenage girls on how life contexts influenced sexuality and sexual abstinence.


Study Design and Methods: A qualitative descriptive study with a convenience sample of 14 sexually abstinent African American adolescent females who were interviewed to obtain their life histories. Narrative analysis was used to identify unique and common experiences and to develop themes.


Results: For these participants, being abstinent was a way to demonstrate their emerging identities as adult women. They described themselves as faithful, unique persons who defied negative stereotypes, avoided risky situations, wanted to be strong women like their mothers and grandmothers, and were selective about their friends. The primary challenge to abstinence was their degree of vulnerability to sexual harassment, romantic partner pressure, and female peer pressure.


Clinical Implications: Abstinence is a complex state of being that is influenced by a variety of contexts, develops over time, and is consciously chosen. Maintaining abstinence requires effort and a variety of skills. While these young women were cognitively familiar with reasons why they should refrain from sex, nurses may still assist youth with being abstinent by providing ongoing teaching and specific dialogue on how to refrain from sex.