Acculturation and Parent-Adolescent Communication About Sex in Filipino-American Families

A Community-Based Participatory Research Study

Published in: The Journal of Adolescent Health, v. 40, no. 6, June 2007, p. 543-550

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2006

by Paul J. Chung, Raphael Travis, Shelly D Kilpatrick, Marc N. Elliott, Camillia Lui, Shefali B. Khandwala, Theresa M. Dancel, Lori Vollandt, Mark A. Schuster

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PURPOSE: To examine whether acculturation is associated with parent-adolescent communication about sex in Filipino-American families. Filipino-Americans, the United States' second-largest Asian and Pacific Islander (API) group, have more adolescent pregnancy and HIV infection than other APIs. High-quality parent-adolescent communication about sex has been associated with healthy sexual development, and acculturation has been associated with various increased health risks. Whether acculturation affects parent-adolescent communication is unknown. METHODS: The authors surveyed 120 pairs of Filipino-American parents and adolescents at a single large high school. They asked adolescents about their frequency of parent-adolescent communication about sex and measured adolescent acculturation in two ways: disagreement with traditional Asian values and preferential use of English. In bivariate and multivariate regressions, the authors examined whether adolescent acculturation was associated with adolescent reports of parent-adolescent communication. RESULTS: Few adolescents (22%) reported regularly discussing sex with parents. Although most adolescents (72%) agreed with traditional Asian values, most (63%) preferred using English. In bivariate regressions, less parent-adolescent communication about sex was associated with less adolescent agreement with traditional Asian values (p = .002) and more adolescent English use (p = .009). In multivariate regressions, these associations were largely explained by adolescent perceptions of parent knowledge about their whereabouts and activities. CONCLUSIONS: Acculturation may influence Filipino-American parent-adolescent communication about sex and, consequently, Filipino-American adolescent sexual health. Health care and public health providers may need to tailor adolescent sexual health programs based on acculturation or other immigration-related factors.

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