Leisure Boredom, Timing of Sexual Debut, and Co-Occurring Behaviors among South African Adolescents

Eric K. Layland, Nilam Ram, Linda L. Caldwell, Edward A. Smith, Lisa Wegner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Sex during adolescence is normative; however, there are substantial individual differences in the timing and context of sexual debut. Leisure boredom is an underexplored correlate of sexual behavior that is associated with many adolescent health outcomes. We investigated if and how individual differences in leisure boredom may be associated with timing of sexual debut, and whether individuals engage in safe or risky behaviors at debut. Survival analysis, logistic regression, and Poisson regression were applied to eight-wave longitudinal data obtained from 3,088 South African adolescents (baseline Mage = 13.9 years) to examine associations between leisure boredom and cumulative hazard of sexual debut across adolescence, odds of co-occurring sexual behaviors, and incidence rate of co-occurring sexual risk behaviors at debut. Higher levels of leisure boredom were associated with elevated hazard cumulatively across adolescence. Higher levels of leisure boredom were also associated with lower odds of safe sex and higher odds of substance use during sex and transactional sex at sexual debut, but not casual sex or condom non-use at sexual debut. Although odds of singular risk behaviors were lower for girls than for boys, the association between leisure boredom and the number of risk behaviors at sexual debut was stronger for girls than boys. Higher trait leisure boredom was associated with elevated hazard of sexual debut, greater likelihood that risky behaviors accompanied sexual debut, and greater number of co-occurring risky behaviors at sexual debut. Results support leisure boredom as a potential target for preventing sexual risk behavior among South African adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2383-2394
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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