20.5. The Ability of Adolescent Girls to Exert Control over Sexually-Charged Situations

Public examination of a doctoral dissertation in the field of nursing science

Doctoral candidate: MHS Pia Suvivuo

Time and venue: 20.5.2011 at 12 noon, Canthia Auditorium L1, Kuopio Campus

The aim of the study was to understand how Finnish 9th grade (14-15 years old) girls promote their self-control in sexually charged-situations and how their self-control, ability to achieve their intentions, and contraceptive use are influenced by cultural, psychosocial, and situational factors. The goal was to understand why some adolescent girls are able to exert control over their sexual experiences while others are not.

This study was conducted under the aegis of the Schools for Health in Europe (SHE) network. The study has a multidisciplinary basis, and its theoretical and conceptual position lies in health promotion and nursing science. The data analysed consisted of a collection of narratives written by 9th grade (14 – 15-year-old) girls about their experiences in a memorable sexually-charged situation. The first dataset contained 234 narratives; the second contained 44. Four different sub-studies of these narratives were conducted; three using narrative analysis and one using content analysis.

Adolescent girls employed many abilities and skills to exert control over sexually charged-situations and to achieve their intentions. Significant variation was observed in the girls’ ability to exert control and the extent to which this ability was influenced by their consumption of alcohol; variation was also observed in the girls’ ability to achieve their intentions, negotiate with their partners, ensure the use of contraception, and in the nature of the sexual scripts internalized by different girls.

Many different factors affected girl’s ability to exert control over sexually charged-situations and achieve their intentions. These included: 1) cultural factors such as the nature of the girls’ internalized sexual scripts, 2) personal factors such as the position of the Locus of Control, and 3) situational factors such as alcohol use and the negotiation strategy adopted. All of these factors contribute to a girl’s sexual behavior and ability to exert control over sexually-charged situations.

The analysis of narratives describing teenage girls’ lived experiences of sexually-charged situations generated new contextual and situational information regarding the ability of adolescent girls to exert control over their sex lives. Different theoretical frameworks and concepts were used so as to ensure that the research topics were covered from a wide range of perspectives.

The objective in interventions aimed at the promotion of sexual health is to help adolescent girls exert control over sexually-charged situations and to provide them with tools that will help them to achieve their intentions, use contraception, negotiate effectively and handle the effects of alcohol consumption. Sex education should 1) help girls increase their “self-knowledge” by recognizing their needs, interests and emotions; 2) help them to clarify their personal values and attitudes; 3) encourage them to consider their expectations and the preconditions that should be satisfied before engaging in sexual activity; and 4) give them an opportunity to develop and practise resisting pressure exerted by their partner.

The doctoral dissertation of Master of Health Sciences Pia Suvivuo, entitled The Ability of Adolescent Girls to Exert Control over Sexually-Charged Situations- A Narrative Study for the Promotion of Sexual Health will be examined at the Faculty of Health Sciences. The opponent in the public examination will be Docent Raili Välimaa of the University of Jyväskylä and the custos will be Professor Kerttu Tossavainen of the University of Eastern Finland.

Photo available for download at http://www.uef.fi/vaitoskuvat

Contact: Pia Suvivuo p. 050 911 6828 tai pia.suvivuo@turkuamk.fi

Publishing year: 2011

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