Predictors of primary and secondary sexual abstinence among never-married youth in urban poor Accra, Ghana

Nurudeen Alhassan, F. Nii Amoo Dodoo

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9 Scopus citations


Background: Sexual abstinence is a key component of the strategy to address unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and HIV among youth in sub-Sahara Africa. But contextual pressures make abstaining from sex a formidable task for urban poor youth in the sub-region. Nevertheless, some youth in these settings still manage to resist the pressure to initiate sex early, while others choose abstinence after an initial sexual debut. Few studies in the sub-region have examined sexual abstinence among urban poor youth. We therefore examined the factors that predict primary and secondary sexual abstinence among youth in urban poor Accra. The findings highlight the protective factors associated with sexual intercourse and should help to address the needs of youth at risk of unprotected sex. Methods: The study analysed pooled data from two rounds of the Urban Health and Poverty Survey. The surveys analysed were conducted in 2011 and 2013. The analysis was restricted to unmarried youth between age 20 and 24 years. The total sample comprised 235 female and male youth. We conducted multinomial logistic regression analysis to examine the predictors of primary and secondary abstinence relative to current sexual intercourse. Results: The results showed that being female, sexual communication with only fathers, sexual communication with only friends and slum residence were negatively associated with primary sexual abstinence. Contrarily, being in school, attaching importance to religion, residing in a household that received social support and sexual communication with both parents were positively associated with primary abstinence. Regarding secondary abstinence, only the sexual communication variables had significant effects. Sexual communication with both parents positively predicted secondary abstinence while communication with fathers-only and friends-only had a negative effect. Conclusion: Sexual abstinence is predicted by factors which range from individual through household factors to the locality of residence. Despite the importance of all the predictors, the study found that sexual communication with both parents was the only factor that predicted a higher likelihood of both primary and secondary sexual abstinence. We therefore recommend sexual communication between parents and youth as a key strategy for promoting sexual abstinence among urban poor youth in Accra, Ghana.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number28
JournalReproductive Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 21 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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