A Latent Class Analysis of Behavioral and Psychosocial Dimensions of Adolescent Sexuality: Exploring Race Differences


Maggie L Thorsen


Journal of Sex Research


Adolescent sexuality is a multidimensional concept involving sexual behavior as well as aspects of youth's sexual self-concept and sexual socialization. The current study used latent class analysis (LCA) to examine patterns of adolescent sexuality, with data from a nationally representative sample of youth (Add Health; n=13,447), incorporating information on behavioral and psychosocial dimensions of adolescent sexual experiences. LCA results highlighted that youth may exhibit similar sexual behaviors but vary on psychosocial dimensions, including sexual self-efficacy, knowledge, and views about sex. Sociodemographic characteristics, family factors, mental health, and substance use emerged as predictors of membership into different latent classes of sexuality. Given persistent racial differences in sexual outcomes and sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates, the current study also examined how adolescent patterns of sexuality may help mediate racial differences in sexual outcomes by young adulthood. Results suggested that racial differences in adolescent patterns of sexuality help mediate racial differences in the number of sexual partners by young adulthood but not differences in STI diagnosis. Findings highlight the need for research on multiple aspects of adolescent sexuality to understand linkages with later outcomes and group differences.



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