Ecological approaches to understanding health behavior and outcomes among youth

In spite of prevention programs that target risky sexual behaviours in youth, many BC teens continue to experience serious health and social problems related to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unplanned pregnancies. However, there are significant variations in the incidence of teen pregnancy and STDs among rural and remote BC communities. Terrace, for example, has relatively high rates, while 100 Mile House has lower rates than the provincial norm. Dr. Jean Shoveller is studying the factors that contribute to this variation in sexual health outcomes among youth. In addition to personal behaviours among teens, she is investigating how other factors – such as relationships with family and peers, community social norms and the influence of institutions including education, health and religion – may contribute to decisions they make around their sexual health. Through her five-year study of three rural/remote BC communities, Dr. Shoveller hopes to provide significant insight into how communities can help prevent adverse sexual health outcomes among their youth.