Does having a history of sexual coercion make teens less likely to look after their sexual health? Quite the opposite.

Lucia F. O'Sullivan, Ph.D.

It is incredible to realize that despite decades of efforts to reduce rates of sexual coercion—there has been no change in rates at all. 

Drs. Lucia O’Sullivan, Sandra Byers, Lori Brotto, and Jo Ann Majerovich examined whether adolescents who had a history of sexual coercion were less likely to look after their sexual health—that is, was access to and use of sexual health care services lower for those teens with a history of sexual coercion compared to those with no such history?

They found that 30% of participants (somewhat more female than male) had experienced an incident of sexual coercion since the age of 14.

Surprisingly, those with a history of coercion reported more sexual health-related visits than did those without.  There were no differences between the two groups in difficulty accessing care, perceived quality of care, or rates of unmet health needs.

Those who reported a history of sexual coercion had over 8 times the odds of having a sexual health-focused visit if they had had a routine checkup in the previous year.

What this means is that teens with a coercion history who are visiting their health care provider for any reason are more likely to have their sexual health needs met.  Probably health care providers are using the routine visit as an opportunity to inquire about sexual matters or these teens have more trust in their provider or the health care system—enough to bring up important matters.