Media's contribution to sexual knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors for adolescents and young adults in Three Asian Cities

Chaohua Lou, Yan Cheng, Ersheng Gao, Xiayun Zuo, Mark R. Emerson, Laurie S. Zabin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: Evidence in western countries indicates that the media have associations with adolescents' and young people's sexual behavior that may be as important as family, school, and peers. In this new study of Asian adolescents and young adults in the three cities of Hanoi, Shanghai, and Taipei, the associations between exposure to sexual content in the media and adolescents' and young adults' sex-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors are explored in societies with traditional Confucian culture, but at different stages in the process of modernization. Methods: The data are from a questionnaire-based cross-sectional study conducted from 2006 to 2007, where a sample of 17,016 adolescents and young adults aged 1524 years from Shanghai, Hanoi, and Taipei completed face-to-face interviews coupled with computer-assisted self-interviews for sensitive questions. For the objectives of this article, analysis was restricted to the 16,554 unmarried respondents. Exposure to sexual content in the mass media (including the Internet and traditional media), pornographic videos, and a preference for western/Asian movies/videos were the main media influence measures. Sex-related knowledge, premarital sexual permissiveness (PSP), and sex-related behaviors were the main outcome measures. The impact of each of four contexts including family, peer, school, and media on sex-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors were assessed using multiple linear regression stratified by gender and city, controlling for age, urban/rural residence, education, and economic status. The change in adjusted R 2 from the multiple linear regression analysis was adopted to indicate the contribution of family, peer, school, and media variables to respondents' sex-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. Results: The contextual factors, including family, peer, school, and media, explained 30%50% of the variance in sex-related knowledge, 8%22% of the variance in PSP, and 32%41% of the variance in sex-related behaviors. Media variables explained 13%24% of the variance in sexual knowledge, 3%13% in PSP, and 3%13% in sex-related behaviors, which was comparable with that of family, peer, and school variables. These associations differed by city and gender. Conclusions: Access to and use of mass media and the messages they present are influential factors on sex-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of unmarried Asian adolescents and young adults, and should be considered in future research and intervention programs attempting to improve reproductive health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S26-S36
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012



  • Asian city
  • Attitude
  • Mass media
  • Multicenter study
  • Sex-related knowledge
  • Sexual behavior
  • Unmarried

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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