Friday, July 25, 2008

Family meals reduce risky teen sex?

Hmmm..... I am inclined to think that the findings below reduce to saying that middle class people are more cautious. On the other hand, the study claims to be a study of differences between siblings. If so, that would mean that class differences are controlled for.

The idea that different siblings in the one family are treated markedly differently seems very problematic, however. Do family meals often include one sibling but not another? And if so why? Is the non-included one more rebellious to start with and does that alone account for the different degrees of promiscuity etc.? Seems likely. And how can "parental knowledge" and "parent negativity" be different from one sibling to another? Presumably it can be but why? Could be that "difficult" children tend to be excluded and again we might find it unsurprising that "difficult" children in one way behave in difficult ways on other occasions. I suspect a very large confusion of cause and effect in this study. The journal abstract is here

PARENTS who don't want their teens to engage in risky sexual behaviour should make family time a priority, a new study suggests. Adolescents who took part in family activities more often had sex less frequently, less unprotected sex, and fewer sex partners, Rebekah Levine Coley of Boston College and her colleagues found.

Most research on parenting and teen sexual behavior has simply looked at whether or not a teen has had sex, not the degree of sexual risk he or she takes, Dr Coley noted in an interview with Reuters Health. But given that two out of three US teens have sex before they turn 19, more specific information would provide a better understanding of the risks involved, Dr Coley and her team point out in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

To investigate, as well as to better define whether parental qualities influence a child's sexual behaviour rather than vice versa, Dr Coley and her team used increasingly stringent statistical techniques to analyse the results of a survey of 4950 US teens, 1058 of whom were siblings. The adolescents were 12 to 16 years old when the study began, and completed the survey every year for 3 years. By comparing parenting quality and sexual behaviour for siblings raised in the same household, Dr Coley noted, it is possible to tease out potential cause-and-effect relationships.

The more times a week that an adolescent reported having dinner with their family, "doing something religious" as a family, or having fun with their family, the less likely he or she was to engage in risky sexual behaviour, the researchers found.

However, having a parent who used "negative and psychologically controlling" behaviour increased the likelihood that a teen would be having risky sex. This includes "criticising the ideas of the adolescents, controlling and directing what they think and how they feel," Dr Coley explained. "Negative and psychologically controlling parenting behaviours may inhibit adolescents' development of self-efficacy and identity, interfere with mature and responsible decision making skills, and affect the development of healthy relationships, in turn leading to an elevated likelihood of engaging in risky behaviours," the researchers suggest.

On the other hand, they add, family activities are "centrally important supports for children, providing opportunities for emotional warmth, communication, and transmission of values and beliefs." The findings make it clear, Dr Coley said, that "what parents do with their adolescents really matters."


Viagra gives ladies a lift

These findings come from a control group study so deserve respect

DEPRESSED women who are having trouble in the bedroom are being encouraged to take the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra to improve their libido. Loss of libido is a common side effect of antidepressants and a major reason why many women stop taking medication for their depression. This is particularly problematic given that twice as many women as men are prescribed antidepressants but the most effective drugs used to combat sexual dysfunction in men are not approved for use in women.

Researchers tested Viagra on 98 women whose depression was in remission but were still experiencing sexual dysfunction such as lack of arousal or pain during sex. The women were told to take a pill one to two hours before sex for eight weeks. Half were given placebos pills which had no pharmacological effects.

Some 73 percent of the women given placebos reported no improvement with treatment while only 28 percent of the women taking Viagra said they did not notice an improvement, the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found. Some of the women experienced headaches, flushing and indigestion but none of them withdrew from the trial because of side effects.

"By treating this bothersome treatment-associated adverse effect in patients who have been effectively treated for depression, but need to continue on their medication to avoid relapse or recurrence, patients can remain antidepressant-adherent, reduce the current high rates of premature medication discontinuation, and improve depression disease management outcomes," wrote lead author George Nurnberg of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.


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