Sexual Behavior and Health From Adolescence to Adulthood: Illustrative Examples of 25 Years of Research From Add Health

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5 Scopus citations


Due to its long-term longitudinal design, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) has provided numerous valuable insights into adolescent and young adult sexual behavior. Framed by a conceptual model of sexual behavior and health, I review research using Add Health data to study sexual behavior and health. In this paper, I review research examining both predictors (e.g., neighborhood, family, genetic, individual) and health outcomes (e.g., sexually transmitted infections, mental health) of sexual behavior in adolescents and young adults. Where possible, I focus on long-term longitudinal studies that make use of the unique strengths of the Add Health data. Existing Add Health research has provided considerable information about both the predictors and health consequences of adolescent and young adult sexual behavior. Factors ranging from neighborhoods to genetics predict whether adolescent and young adults engage in sexual behaviors. Findings on long-term outcomes of adolescent sexual behavior suggest that early sexual behavior predicts higher rates of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy in young adulthood, but not long-term changes to mental health. Unique contributions of Add Health include the ability to examine multidimensional bio-ecological predictors of sexual behavior and to examine long-term effects of sexual behavior and how sexual behaviors and their correlates change across adolescence into adulthood. Future work can leverage these strengths, and in particular the long-term longitudinal nature of the data, to uncover new insights about the developmental course of sexual behavior and health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S24-S31
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Adolescent health
  • Conceptual framework
  • Review
  • Sexual behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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