Personal attitudes, perceived social norms, and health-risk behavior among female adolescents with chronic medical conditions.
This study explored the level of knowledge, attitudes and activity related to sexuality in a group of adolescents and young adults with myelomeningocele, a group of matched controls and a group of adolescents with cystic fibrosis. Slightly more than half of the study sample were female, the mean age was 17.2 years, and their backgrounds were mainly middle-class. 28 per cent of the myelodysplastic group reported previous sexual activity, compared with 60 per cent of the control group and 43 per cent of the group with cystic fibrosis. Most of the disabled adolescents expressed a desire to marry and have children, but fewer than 20 per cent had sought information regarding their sexual or reproductive function from their physician. Among those sexually active, 60 per cent of the controls and 67 per cent of those with cystic fibrosis had used contraception, compared with 16 per cent of the myelodysplastic group. The authors conclude that sex education and screening for contraceptive need is indicated for adolescents with chronic disabilities.