Character as a Predictor of Reproductive Health Outcomes for Youth: A Systematic Review

Abstract:

“To review research examining the influence of character on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH). We defined character as comprising two positive youth development constructs: prosocial norms and spirituality. We conducted a systematic review of behavioral research published from 1985 through 2007 that examined the association between two character constructs (prosocial norms and spirituality) and ASRH outcomes. We coded results as showing a protective association, risk asso- ciation, or no association, and as longitudinal, or cross-sectional. We considered consistent associations from at least two longitudinal studies for a given outcome to be sufficient evidence for a protective or risk association. There is sufficient evidence to indicate that prosocial norms and spirituality can be protective factors for some ASRH outcomes including intention to have sex, early sex or ever having sex, contraceptive and condom use, frequency of sex, and pregnancy. The generalizability of findings by age, race/ethnicity, and gender was unclear. Findings suggest that some character sub-constructs are associated with a reduced likelihood of several adverse ASRH outcomes and with an increased likelihood of using contraceptives and intending to use condoms. Further research is needed to better understand mixed results and results showing some character sub-constructs, such as religious affiliation, to be associated with adverse ASRH outcomes.”

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Citation: House, L.D., Mueller, T., Reininger, B., Brown, K., Markham, C. M. (2010). Character as a predictor of reproductive health outcomes for youth: a systematic review. Journal of Adolescent Health. Vol. 46., Issue 3., p. S58-S74

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