The articles examines studies published between 1984 and 2014 to determine the association between parental monitoring and adolescent sexual intercourse, condom use, and contraceptive use.
Numerous medical associations advocate for increased healthcare provider efforts to engage parents on behalf of the sexual and reproductive health of adolescent patients. However, providers are often left with limited guidance regarding how best to engage parents to support adolescent sexual and reproductive health. Parental monitoring to reduce sexual risk behavior represents one such critical opportunity for providers to engage parents on behalf of teen sexual and reproductive health.
In an article in the December, 2015, Pediatrics (published online Nov. 30), “Parental Monitoring and Its Associations with Adolescent Sexual Risk Behavior: a Meta-analysis,” researchers from New York University’s Center for Latino and Adolescent Family Health (CLAFH) at the Silver School of Social Work and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), examine studies published between 1984 and 2014 to determine the association between parental monitoring and adolescent sexual intercourse, condom use, and contraceptive use.
Across these studies, parental monitoring was associated with reduced adolescent sexual risk behavior, including delayed initiation of sex, and increased condom and contraceptive use. However, the specific aspects of monitoring differentially predicted reductions in sexual risk behavior. Sexual debut was most influenced by establishment of clear rules and parental expectation. In contrast, contraceptive behavior and condom use was most associated with monitoring knowledge versus specific monitoring behaviors. In all cases, protective monitoring effects were found to be robust for different adolescents, including boys and girls, older and younger adolescents, and sexually experienced adolescents as well as those who are not yet sexually experienced.
The paper’s senior author is Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, professor of social work and global public health at the Silver School, and co-director of CLAFH.
“Physicians, nurses, and social workers are in a unique position to shape the sexual and reproductive health of their adolescent patients through targeted family-focused efforts to engage both parents and their adolescent children,” said Guilamo-Ramos. “Provider endorsement of specific aspects of parental monitoring is an important opportunity for addressing current teen pregnancy, STI, and HIV adolescent sexual and reproductive health disparities.”
Among the paper’s conclusions:
• Across studies, parental monitoring was associated with reduced adolescent sexual risk behavior, including delayed initiation of sex, and increased condom and contraceptive use. Protective monitoring effects were found to be robust for different adolescents, including boys and girls, older and younger adolescents, and sexually experienced adolescents as well as those who are not yet sexually experienced.
• Both more general forms of parental monitoring (i.e., parents’ knowledge of their adolescents’ companions, whereabouts, and activities), and more specific forms of monitoring through the enforcement of family rules about time spent with friends and dating partners, will help protect adolescents from engaging in sexual risk behavior. General monitoring behaviors may be a proxy for a parenting style characterized by greater parental involvement and better quality relationships, whereas family rule enforcement is more about limiting opportunities for engaging in risk behaviors.
• Parents trust health care providers and look to them for advice and guidance about their children’s health and well-being. Providers should take an active role in engaging parents on behalf of their adolescent patients. One way to do so is by supporting parents in their monitoring and supervision efforts with their adolescents. This is especially important for parents of adolescents who tend to pull back from their monitoring efforts as their children grow older.
For an interview with Guilamo-Ramos, please contact the NYU press officer listed with this release.