Objective. The aim was to investigate the role of different forms of social support in early
sexual intercourse and contraceptive use.
Materials and methods. The study sample included 18,918 15-year-olds who took part
in the 2018 Italian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study. Multivariable multilevel
logistic regressions were performed taking into account geographical region and
Results. 21.7% of adolescents reported early sexual intercourse. 71.9% used a condom
at last sexual intercourse, 12.2% oral contraceptives 41.2% other contraceptive methods
(multiple response question). High support from family and from teachers were associated
with a lower likelihood of early sexual intercourse in both genders, while peer
support was shown to increase this likelihood among boys. Adolescents with high social
support were more likely to use condoms.
Conclusions. Social support can have a positive influence on adolescents’ sexual behaviour.
Sexual education programmes should aim to engage peers and those significant
adults who can influence adolescents’ lives, in and out of school.