Review

Sexual coercion and adolescent risk behaviour: a systematic literature review

  • Jerusha N Soomar
  • Alan J Flisher
  • Catherine Mathews

Abstract

Sexual coercion affects the individual through multiple short- and long-term medical, emotional, psychological and social consequences, and adolescents are particularly at high risk. Sexual coercion is hypothesised to negatively affect adolescents’ decision-making around their sexual behaviours and other risk behaviours. Yet there is no previous systematic literature review on the topic to summarise current knowledge. The aim of this systematic literature review is to summarise previous research among adolescents investigating the associations between sexual coercion and risk behaviours, to critically appraise validity of the associations found, and to promote further research on the topic. Published articles were obtained by searching databases using specific keywords. Only 22 articles were found to fit the inclusion criteria. The evidence substantiates the hypothesised associations between sexual coercion and later risk behaviours (e.g. multiple sexual partners, condom non-use, and pregnancy). It also presents differences between genders. However, the influences on behavioural outcomes are multifaceted and largely impacted by bias. There is a need for improved quality of studies — specifically an increased number of longitudinal and experimental design studies — and a clearer understanding of mediators and confounders. Furthermore, emphasis should be placed on addressing the consequences of sexual coercion and promoting interventions that reduce the extent of sexual coercion. This will have added benefit in terms of reducing risk behaviours.

Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2009, 21(2): 103–126

Author Biographies

Jerusha N Soomar
School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Falmouth Building, Faculty of Health Science, University of Cape Town, Observatory 7925, South Africa
Alan J Flisher
Adolescent Health Research Unit, University of Cape Town and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Klipfontein Road, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa
Catherine Mathews
School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Falmouth Building, Faculty of Health Science, University of Cape Town, Observatory 7925, South Africa; Medical Research Council, PO Box 19070, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1728-0591
print ISSN: 1728-0583