Female adolescents and onset of sexual intercourse: a theory-based review of research from 1984 to 1994. Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE: To review a decade of research on the correlates of early onset of sexual intercourse among female adolescents in the United States, using Social Cognitive Theory as a framework for classification. METHODS: Forty-nine studies published in peer-reviewed journals between 1984 and 1994 were reviewed and their findings coded by two independent coders. RESULTS: Findings indicate that most of the studies emphasized quantitative methodologies, using cross-sectional designs and univariate statistical analyses. Many studies lacked a theoretical framework or conceptual model to guide their investigations. When evaluating empirical findings, 61% of the studies found environmental correlates and 47% found biological factors (e.g., age and pubertal development) to be significantly associated with early initiation of sexual intercourse. CONCLUSION: These findings raise important questions about the quality of research on adolescent sexuality, as well as its relationship to the development of risk-reduction programs which tend to focus mainly on intrapersonal factors (such as attitudes, knowledge, and expectancies.

published proceedings

  • J Adolesc Health

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Goodson, P., Evans, A., & Edmundson, E.

citation count

  • 50

publication date

  • September 1997