Predictors of multiple sexual partners from adolescence through young adulthood

Sara A. Vasilenko, Stephanie T. Lanza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Purpose: To examine time-varying associations between predictors of recent multiple sexual partners from middle adolescence through young adulthood. Methods: We examined whether the odds of multiple partners in the past year were differentially predicted by substance use and depression over time, using data from a nationally representative longitudinal study (N = 11,963, 52.2% female, 18.3% African-American, 11.9% Hispanic, 3.5% Asian, 2.6% other race, M age atWave I = 16.1 years, SD = 1.8). Data were analyzed using the time-varying effect model, which estimates associations between predictors and an outcome as a function of near-continuous time. Results: The proportion of participants having multiple partners increased over time, leveling off at around 30% after age 20. Significant positive associations between substance use and multiple partners were strongest early in adolescence and decreased sharply by around age 18. The significant positive association between depression and sexual behavior weakened with age, remaining significant in young adulthood for women but not men. Conclusions: These findings suggest that factors associated with having multiple recent sexual partners change from middle adolescence through young adulthood. The time-varying effect model can be used to identify risk factors that are especially salient at different ages, thus identifying which age periods may hold the greatest promise for intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-497
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Sexual behavior
  • Time-varying effect model
  • Young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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