Sexually Abstinent African American Adolescent Females' Descriptions of Abstinence

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Journal of Nursing Scholarship

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PURPOSE: To describe sexual abstinence from the perspective of abstinent African American female adolescents.

DESIGN: Descriptive qualitative.

METHODS: Data were collected from 14 sexually abstinent, African American adolescent girls during two semi-structured interviews. Data were collected using the life history method and were analyzed in the style of narrative analysis.

FINDINGS: This analysis indicated four themes in descriptions of abstinence: limited information, categorization of sexual behaviors, activities that lead to intercourse, and abstinence as a self-determined choice. For most participants, "having sex" referred to heterosexual vaginal intercourse and being abstinent meant that one chose to refrain from intercourse.

CONCLUSIONS: The participants' limited definition of abstinence might lead them to unknowingly put themselves at risk by engaging in other forms of genital sexual activities. They may think that they are protected because they believe that they are practicing abstinence.


Journal of Nursing Scholarship, Vol. 35, No. 3, (Sep. 2003): 231-36.DOI.