Associations between Parental Psychopathology and Sexual Behavior in an Outpatient Psychiatric Sample

Sarah R. Black, Ilana Seager, Molly R. Meers, L. Eugene Arnold, Boris Birmaher, Robert L. Findling, Sarah M. Horwitz, Eric A. Youngstrom, Mary A. Fristad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Early age of sexual debut is associated with an increase in negative outcomes, including higher incidence of nonconsensual sexual experiences, higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, and risky sexual practices. Little research has examined the role of parental psychopathology as a predictor of adolescent sexual activity, however. The current study aims to close this gap by examining the relationship between parental psychopathology and sexual activity in a longitudinal sample of youth. Participants were 685 adolescents from the Longitudinal Assessment of Manic Symptoms study, the majority of whom were male (67%) and White (65%). Analyses considering likelihood of sexual initiation included the full sample, whereas analyses considering predictors of the age of sexual debut included the 162 participants who reported ever having sexual intercourse (62% male, 51% White) via the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance–High School version. Cox regression analyses suggested that maternal generalized anxiety disorder predicted decreased likelihood of initiating sex during the 8-year follow-up period, whereas paternal conduct disorder predicted increased likelihood of initiating sex. Multivariate linear regressions also showed that maternal conduct disorder predicted earlier age of sexual debut among those who had initiated, whereas paternal antisocial personality disorder predicted later age of sexual debut. These associations were observed in both male and female adolescents. Furthermore, these effects were largely not explained by the established relationship between youth psychopathology and sexual behavior. Results have implications for interventions aimed at decreasing sexual risk taking in vulnerable youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-59
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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    Black, S. R., Seager, I., Meers, M. R., Arnold, L. E., Birmaher, B., Findling, R. L., Horwitz, S. M., Youngstrom, E. A., & Fristad, M. A. (2020). Associations between Parental Psychopathology and Sexual Behavior in an Outpatient Psychiatric Sample. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 49(1), 50-59. https://doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2018.1514614