GLOB PUBLIC HEALTH;Glob. Public Health;07-Aug;2013;8;8
Research indicates that adolescents in low-income countries have an early sexual debut and engage in risky sexual behaviours. Few studies in low-income countries however, have explored the factors that influence young people's sexual behaviours. This study examined individual, family and peer-level factors associated with premarital sexual behaviours in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR). A cross-sectional survey was undertaken with unmarried youth aged 18 to 24 years (N = 1200) in Vientiane Capital City. Logistic regression models, controlling for confounding variables, were employed to test for the contribution of factors influencing premarital sexual activity. Most respondents held positive attitudes towards premarital sex, with males having more liberal attitudes than females (mean score of 2.68 vs. 2.32, p < 0.001). Prevalence of premarital sexual activity was higher among males than females (44.7% and 19.2%, respectively). Predictors of premarital sex for males were age, sexual attitudes, perceived parental expectations regarding sex, dating and peer influence. For females, predictors were father's level of education, parent-youth sexual communication, peer influence and liberal sexual attitudes. The results highlight the role of parent-youth interaction and peer influence. The results suggest the need for a range of strategies at the individual, peer and family level, as well as a gender-specific focus.