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This paper reports the qualitative first phase of a community-based participatory research study that explored the perceptions of behaviors and factors related to sexual risk behaviors among adolescents in northern Thailand. Adolescent community and academic researchers conducted focus group discussions with 94 adolescents aged 10-19 years old, and in-depth interviews with five females who had been pregnant in adolescence and one male who had fathered an adolescent pregnancy. Data was audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Content analysis was employed to analyze the data.
Two themes emerged about the adolescents: 1) social situations to rationalize sexual behaviors, which comprised peer imitation regarding sexual intercourse, online sexual relationships, drinking alcohol before having sex, living with a boyfriend/girlfriend without marriage, and having multiple partners, and 2) factors related to sexual risk behaviors, including adolescent norms regarding sexual risk, misinformation regarding sexual risk prevention, uninvolved parenting style, lack of teaching skills to convey sex education, potential risk environment in the community, and community norms regarding males’ sexual behavior. Results indicated that correct and effective sexually transmitted infection prevention methods, gender equality, and motivation for condom use are important to prevent adolescent sexual risk behaviors. In addition, community-based interventions are needed to focus on different parenting skills, sex education teaching skills, and addressing community norms in order to prevent sexual risk behaviors among Thai adolescents.
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