Paternal influences on adolescent sexual risk behaviors: A structured literature review

Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, Alida Bouris, Jane Lee, Katharine McCarthy, Shannon L. Michael, Seraphine Pitt-Barnes, Patricia Dittus

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: To date, most parent-based research has neglected the role of fathers in shaping adolescent sexual behavior and has focused on mothers. The objective of this study was to conduct a structured review to assess the role of paternal influence on adolescent sexual behavior and to assess the methodological quality of the paternal influence literature related to adolescent sexual behavior. METHODS: We searched electronic databases: PubMed, PsychINFO, Social Services Abstracts, Family Studies Abstracts, Sociological Abstracts, and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature. Studies published between 1980 and 2011 that targeted adolescents 11 to 18 years and focused on paternal parenting processes were included. Methodological quality was assessed by using an 11-item scoring system. RESULTS: Thirteen articles were identified and reviewed. Findings suggest paternal factors are independently associated with adolescent sexual behavior relative to maternal factors. The most commonly studied paternal influence was emotional qualities of the father-adolescent relationship. Paternal communication about sex was most consistently associated with adolescent sexual behavior, whereas paternal attitudes about sex was least associated. Methodological limitations include a tendency to rely on cross-sectional design, nonprobability sampling methods, and focus on sexual debut versus broader sexual behavior. CONCLUSIONS: Existing research preliminarily suggests fathers influence the sexual behavior of their adolescent children; however, more rigorous research examining diverse facets of paternal influence on adolescent sexual behavior is needed. We provide recommendations for primary care providers and public health practitioners to better incorporate fathers into interventions designed to reduce adolescent sexual risk behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1313-e1325
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Adolescents
  • Fathers
  • Paternal influences
  • Sexual risk behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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