Do Perceptions of Friends' Behaviors Affect Age at First Sex? Evidence from Cebu, Philippines

Ushma D. Upadhyay, Michelle J. Hindin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose: To explore the effect of perceptions of friends' romantic and physical behaviors on adolescent sexual behavior and the relative influence of friends' sexual behaviors and maternal attitudes on age at first sex. Methods: Using longitudinal data collected from 1943 adolescents who have never had sex at baseline in Cebu, Philippines, logistic regression assessed whether adolescents' perceptions of friends' sexual behaviors, measured at ages 14 to 16 years, were associated with age at first intercourse. Survival analysis assessed the hazard of having first intercourse by ages 17 to 19 years. Final models adjusted for sociodemographics, mothers'/caretakers' disapproval of premarital sex, living with a caretaker, and the adolescents' own behaviors at baseline. Results: Boys and girls, who at ages 14 to 16 years, perceived that their friends had ever had boyfriends/girlfriends, dated, held hands, kissed, petted or had sex were significantly more likely to have experienced that behavior by ages 17 to 19 years. For each additional behavior an adolescent perceived his or her friends to have experienced, the hazard of having sex at a younger age increased by 1.15 (p = .02) among boys and 1.19 (p < .002) among girls, after adjusting for mothers'/caretakers' disapproval of premarital sex and other factors. Conclusions: These results demonstrate the important role of peers in light of competing influences in adolescents' lives. They provide support for asking at early ages what romantic and physical behaviors adolescents think their friends have experienced. Interventions can use such information to better prepare adolescents to make responsible and informed decisions about sexuality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-577
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Age at first sex
  • Developing countries
  • Gender issues
  • Parental attitudes
  • Peer influence
  • Phillipines
  • Sexual behavior
  • Sexual initiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Do Perceptions of Friends' Behaviors Affect Age at First Sex? Evidence from Cebu, Philippines'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this