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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Factors associated with sexual initiation among East Asian adolescents in Canada Homma, Yuko


Despite the large number of adolescents of East Asian origin in Canada, there is limited research on sexual health among this population. The primary objective of this study was to investigate factors associated with sexual initiation among East Asian adolescents in British Columbia. This dissertation consists of four studies, all of which used the British Columbia Adolescent Health Survey of 2008, including over 4,000 East Asian students in grades 7 through 12. The first study documented estimated prevalence of sexual health and risk behaviors. Nearly 10% of East Asian students had ever had sexual intercourse. Of those sexually active students, about 70% had engaged in risky sexual behaviors. Born in Canada and speaking English at home were associated with greater odds of being sexually active. The second study indicated that the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Meausre-Revised (MEIM-R) measured two highly correlated dimensions of ethnic identity (Exploration and Commitment). The MEIM-R was invariant across age groups and degree of exposure to Canadian or East Asian cultures. Using the MEIM-R, the third study examined the association between ethnic identity and sexual initiation. Students with stronger ethnic identity were less likely to have had sexual intercourse. Finally, the fourth study was conducted to identify risk and protective factors associated with sexual initiation, and to examine the likelihood of sexual initiation, given a specific set of risk and protective factors. School connectedness was a strong protective factor for boys; family connectedness, ethnic identity, and school connectedness were the top three protective factors for girls. The top three risk factors were lifetime alcohol use, sexual abuse histories, and emotional distress for boys; and lifetime alcohol use, sexual abuse histories, and looking older compared to peers of about the same age for girls. The presence of those protective factors substantially decreased the likelihood of sexual initiation for adolescents exposed to risk. For those with the three risk factors, the probability of sexual initiation was reduced by half with the addition of the top protective factor(s). The study findings suggest that a dual approach of reducing risk and fostering protection would promote sexual health among East Asian adolescents.

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