Adolescents involved with the criminal justice system engage in high levels of both risky sexual behavior and alcohol use. Yet a strong relationship between the two constructs has not been consistently observed, possibly due to heterogeneity in the data. Regression mixture models were estimated in the current study to address such potential heterogeneity. Criminally-involved adolescents (n = 409) were clustered into latent classes based on patterns of the regression of two measures of risky sexual behavior, condom use and frequency of intercourse, on alcohol use. A three-class solution emerged where alcohol use did not significantly predict either risky sex outcome for approximately 25% of the sample; alcohol use negatively predicted condom use and positively predicted frequency of intercourse for approximately 38% of participants; and alcohol use negatively predicted condom use but not frequency of intercourse for the remaining participants. These classes were then distinguished on the basis of five covariates previously found to influence either alcohol use, risky sexual behavior, or the relationship between the two: self-esteem, gender, participant age, relationship status, and impulsivity/sensation-seeking. High self-esteem, being female, being older, and being in a relationship predicted membership in the class with no observed relationship of alcohol use to risky sex, relative to the other classes. Implications of the present findings are discussed in terms of exploring different risky sex and alcohol use patterns within criminally involved adolescents, as well as understanding the effectiveness of interventions for subgroups of individuals.
Prevention Science – Springer Journals
Published: May 21, 2009
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