Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

97P Family and Peer Influences On Sexual Intention: A Path Analysis Approach

Saturday, January 14, 2012
Independence F - I (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Anamika Barman-Adhikari, MSW, PhD Student, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Julie Cederbaum, MSW, MPH, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Purpose: Various environmental factors influence whether a teen engages in risky sexual behaviors. The literature suggests that the more proximal (and direct) a process is to an individual, the more influential it is likely to be in affecting development and behavior (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Therefore family factors (e.g., parenting practices) and peer influence (e.g., peer norms) tend to be more strongly associated with adolescent behavior than are distal factors (e.g., media or the economy) (Small & Memmo, 2004). Evidence shows that peer influences and family influences are interconnected in complex ways across development. Using Brofenbrenner's (1979) Ecological Theory as a guiding framework, the purpose of this study is to understand how parental influence variables interact with perceptions of negative peer influence in predicting daughter's intention to have sex. Methods: A non-probability sample of 176 mother-daughter dyads was recruited through clinics and service organizations in Philadelphia, PA and Newark, NJ. This study was cross-sectional; data was collected via a self- administered survey. The paper and pencil questionnaires were completed individually by each mother and daughter. Of interest in this study were demographic variables (whether mother is HIV positive, daughter's age) as well measures of sexual communication, parental monitoring, parental values about adolescent sex and daughter's perception of peer influence and intention to have sex. Path analysis was used to understand if perceptions of peer influence act as a mediator between measures of parental influence and the daughter's intention to have sex in the next three months. Results: Results from the path analysis revealed that as hypothesized, while parental influence variables, for the most part, did not have a significant direct relationship with daughter's intention to have sex, they did have a significant indirect influence on daughter's intention to have sex through their perceptions of negative peer influence. More specifically, parent-child relationship satisfaction (b=-.068, p< .05) and parental monitoring (b=-.135, p < .05) were associated directly with lower perceptions of negative peer influence. While there was a positive direct relationship between perceptions of negative peer influence and intention to have sex (b=.086, p < .05), parental monitoring and parent-child relationship satisfaction buffered that risk (when the total effect was calculated). The path model showed an acceptable fit to the data from the sample in this study (Chi-Square= 4.9, df = 3, p= .177, GFI=.99, CFI=.99, RMSEA=.06). Implications: Family processes are able to buffer risk intention and act as protective factors for youth who are in environments where their peers might be engaging in various risky behaviors. This is a reminder of the important roles parents play in sex education and HIV prevention. Parents need opportunities to learn about sex related issues and develop skills that will allow them to be more communicative with their children. These results also highlight the need for early intervention. Youth who become mired in negative peer environments in late adolescence may become less susceptible to family influence and therefore it would be prudent to reach these youth and their families when they are younger and still more rooted in their family systems.