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Review: similar social factors influence young people’s sexual behaviour worldwide

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Q What factors influence the sexual behaviour of young people?


Embedded ImageData sources:

BIDS, PsycINFO, PubMed, CIHAHL, Ovid journals and books, Web of Science, EMBASE/Excerpta Medica, Anthropology plus, library catalogues, reference lists, experts, and hand searches of key journals.

Embedded ImageStudy selection and assessment:

English-language, qualitative empirical studies of the sexual behaviour of young people (10–25 y) that were published between 1990 and 2004 and reported empirical, non-numerical data. Studies that focused exclusively on commercial sex work or child sexual abuse were excluded. 268 studies met the selection criteria. Individual studies were assessed for quality and classified as primary (high quality studies providing theoretical insight into sexual behaviour or thorough descriptions of particular contexts) and secondary (lower quality studies that had simple, non-detailed descriptions or did not support statements with evidence).


7 key themes emerged. (1) Young people subjectively assess the risks from sexual partners on the basis of whether they are “clean” or “unclean.” Young people determined the disease risk of …

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  • For correspondence: Dr C Marston, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK. cicely.marston{at}

  • Source of funding: UK Department for International Development Knowledge Programme.