Perceived neighborhood partner availability, partner selection, and risk for sexually transmitted infections within a cohort of adolescent females

Pamela A. Matson, Shang En Chung, Jonathan M. Ellen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose This research examined the association between a novel measure of perceived partner availability and discordance between ideal and actual partner characteristics as well as trajectories of ideal partner preferences and perceptions of partner availability over time. Methods A clinic-recruited cohort of adolescent females (N = 92), aged 1619 years, were interviewed quarterly for 12 months using audio computer-assisted self-interview. Participants ranked the importance of characteristics for their ideal main sex partner and then reported on these characteristics for their current main partner. Participants reported on perceptions of availability of ideal sex partners in their neighborhood. Paired t-tests examined discordance between ideal and actual partner characteristics. Random-intercept regression models examined repeated measures. Results Actual partner ratings were lower than ideal partner preferences for fidelity, equaled ideal preferences for emotional support and exceeded ideal preferences for social/economic status and physical attractiveness. Discordance on emotional support and social/economic status was associated with sex partner concurrency. Participants perceived low availability of ideal sex partners. Those who perceived more availability were less likely to be ideal/actual discordant on fidelity [OR =.88, 95% CI:.78, 1.0]. Neither ideal partner preferences nor perceptions of partner availability changed over 12 months. Conclusions Current main sex partners met or exceeded ideal partner preferences in all domains except fidelity. If emotional needs are met, adolescents may tolerate partner concurrency in areas of limited partner pools. Urban adolescent females who perceive low availability may be at increased risk for sexually transmitted infection (STI) because they may be more likely to have nonmonogamous partners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-127
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Adolescents
  • Cohort studies
  • Female
  • Partner availability
  • Perceptions
  • STI risk
  • Sex partner selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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