Those youths were initially virgins and were compared to adolescents who remained virgins. Importantly, such depressive symptoms were present prior to hookups, which challenges the idea that CSREs cause depression. Few studies have investigated this indicator in association with CSREs, and the two that have done so presented divergent conclusions. Self-esteem has been studied in association with casual sex among college students but not among adolescents.
Divergent conclusions emphasize the relevance of continuing this investigation. Studies have documented a negative association for young adults Bersamin et al. Fielder and Carey reported a decrease in self-esteem among women who transitioned to a penetrative CSRE over 10 weeks compared to women who transitioned to a non-penetrative CSRE.
The authors found no association among men. However, another prospective study reported that men who engaged in a CSRE involving intercourse also had a decrease in self-esteem three months after the activity Vrangalova, a. Investigating alcohol and drug use is relevant in a study of psychological well-being because high consumption may be part of externalizing problems and an indicator of lower psychological well-being Hallfors et al.
Cross-sectional studies among young adults have reported an association between alcohol use and CSREs e. Gender differences were not studied. The distinction between alcohol and drugs is relevant to examine because alcohol users are not necessarily drug users; such research would thus help detect different patterns of consumption.
Longitudinal studies have mostly focused on the long-term impact of CSREs, especially for depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation, while the short-term impact deserves further study.
This current prospective study will thus help clarify this question while distinguishing two types of casual sexual partners and considering the effect of gender. It has been suggested that the level of sexual intimacy involved in CSREs may influence subsequent psychological well-being among young adults e.
College students, especially women, who engaged in CSREs involving penetrative contact i. When considering other indicators of well-being, in her prospective study, Vrangalova a found different results. In men, three months later, CSREs involving intercourse were associated with lower self-esteem; CSREs involving oral sex were associated with subsequently more severe depression; and CSREs involving genital touching, oral sex, and intercourse were all associated with subsequently higher anxiety.
Only CSREs involving oral sex were linked with higher anxiety in women. Such complex and subtle results support the relevance of further investigation while considering gender, types of sexual contact, and the inclusion of multiple psychological indicators.
Gender is important to consider when examining the association between casual sex and psychological well-being. Girls and women who reported lower psychological well-being engaged more in CSREs and generally suffered more from those sexual relationships than did boys and men. In contrast, CSREs have been correlated in some studies with higher psychological well-being among men Grello et al.
This two-wave study aimed to investigate the association between CSREs and later psychological well-being among a subsample of sexually active adolescents while controlling for the Time 1 T1 level of psychological well-being. The hypotheses were as follows: The final weighted sample was based on 2, participants, with statistically more girls than boys girls: They were, on average, Sociodemographic characteristics of the sample are presented in Table 1.
The timespan between T1 and T2 was six months. Data were collected through a one-stage stratified cluster sampling of Quebec high schools. To obtain a representative sample of students in grades 10 through 12, schools were first classified into eight strata according to the metropolitan geographical area, status of schools public or private schools , language of instruction French or English and socioeconomic deprivation index.
The final sample comprised classes from 34 schools. Participants were given a correction weight to compensate for biases due to sample design. The weighted sample included 6, youths at Time 1 and 4, youths at Time 2. The weighted sample proved representative of Quebec French- and English-speaking students in 14 to 18 years old in the public education system.
The class response rate and the overall student response rate were determined as the ratio between the number of students who agreed to participate students from whom consent was obtained and the number of approached students, calculated per class and for the entire set of participants. The items measured consensual sexual contact occurring during the past 12 months. Participants could answer that they had more than one type of casual sexual partner and had more than one type of intimate sexual contact.
Four binary independent sexual intimacy variables IVs were created according to types of intimacy: These variables were independent and not mutually exclusive. On the one hand, the variable for sexual touching in FWB relationships included acts of touching in FWB relationships regardless of what other sexual contact may have also occurred in ONSs. This scale measures a state of psychological distress in the broadest sense within non-clinical and clinical populations, including depressive and anxious symptoms Kessler et al.
Participants responded in a five-point scale ranging from 1 None of the time to 5 All of the time. An average score was used, with a high score indicating high distress. A logarithmic transformation was performed on average scores because the distribution was not normal. Participants rated their agreement with each statement, with no period of reference, on a five-point scale from 1 false to 5 true.
An average score was calculated, with a high score indicating good self-esteem. For the same reason as for psychological distress, a logarithmic transformation was performed on average scores.
Three items at T1 and T2 assessed substance use. These items measured the frequency of alcohol, cannabis, and other drug use e. The response scale was 0 not at all , 1 occasionally , 2 about once a month , 3 on weekends or once or twice a week , 4 3 times a week or more, but not every day , and 5 every day. Continuous variable for alcohol consumption and for drug consumption, including the items for cannabis and other drugs, were created.
These non-normally distributed variables were statistically transformed. A high score indicated high consumption. We examined whether sex with a romantic partner at T1, occurring in the past 12 months, was linked to psychological well-being at T2, six months later. Because no significant association was found, we did not control for romantic sex at T1. Regressions for continuous dependent variables DVs psychological distress, self-esteem, and consumption of both alcohol and drugs at T2 were conducted by path analysis, and a logistic regression was conducted for the dichotomous DV suicidal ideation at T2 using Mplus 7.
The four variables of sexual intimacy in CSREs were IVs, and the psychological well-being variables at T1 were entered as control variables to control for the initial level of well-being. Two models were employed, one for girls and one for boys, for the following reasons: This latter proportion was largely due to missing responses for T2 items. Gender had no missing data. Furthermore, the analysis of missing data did not indicate the presence of a specific pattern of non-response.
Missing data were addressed using the FIML Full Information Maximum Likelihood procedure, which took the approach of maximum likelihood to estimate the model parameters when considering all the raw data available Wothke, Table 2 presents CSRE prevalence among sexually active adolescents. Without a distinction between the forms of CSREs i. Z- tests to compare two proportions indicated that more sexually active adolescents engaged in FWB relationships than ONSs regardless of the level of sexual intimacy.
Within each form of CSREs, there was no significant difference in the proportions of sexually active adolescents involved in sexual touching and those involved in penetrative contact. Z- tests were conducted to test the significance difference between two proportions of categories of sexual intimacy designated by letters. Each chi-squared test was calculated within each category of sexual intimacy and indicated significant gender difference.
At both time points, sexually active girls had a higher level of psychological distress and were more likely to report suicidal ideation than sexually active boys Table 3. These boys also had higher levels of self-esteem and both alcohol and drug use than sexually active girls. Path analysis was used to examine whether levels of sexual intimacy in FWB relationships and ONSs during the past 12 months were related to later changes in psychological well-being while controlling for T1 psychological well-being.
For girls, FWB relationships involving penetrative contact i. For all well-being outcomes at T2, their respective well-being variables at T1 were associated. Sexual orientation other than heterosexual also explained the variance but of only two outcomes: Psy IV T1 is the same psychological variable as the outcome, but at T1. Psy IV T1 and Sexual orientation were controlled. R 2 control variables: Variance of the psychological well-being variable at T2 only explained by the same well-being variable at T1 and sexual orientation.
Variance of the psychological well-being variable at T2 explained by the well-being variable at T1, sexual orientation and variables of levels of sexual intimacy.
Three adjustment indices were used to determine whether the two models studied corresponded optimally to the sample data. If it is higher than. Indices of adjustment show evidence that the data are well represented by the models model for girls: Our study aimed to examine the short-term consequences of FWB relationships and ONSs for psychological well-being based on a subsample of sexually active adolescents.
Four out of 10 sexually active adolescents had at least one CSRE in the 12 months preceding the survey, and this prevalence was similar to that in other representative studies among adolescents e. With regard to levels of sexual intimacy, as many sexually active adolescents had engaged in sexual touching only and in penetrative contact within each form of CSRE, the results support the use of a widespread definition of CSREs that includes a wide range of sexual acts. However, only girls had a decrease in their well-being, which more strongly supports the second hypothesis.
When we controlled for well-being at T1, girls who engaged in FWB relationships involving penetrative contact at T1 reported a small increase in psychological distress six months later, as well as an increase in both alcohol and drug use. Girls who engaged in ONSs involving sexual touching also had a small increase in psychological distress and in drug use.
When CSREs slightly decrease psychological well-being, one possible explanation is that girls with pre-existing distress may engage in FWB relationships or ONSs to relieve their low psychological well-being Owen et al. Indeed, girls are reported to be more vulnerable than boys to a lack of commitment in relationships that include sex Meier, Ambiguity in expectations i. Higher alcohol and drug use may therefore be a strategy to cope with their increased psychological distress.
A qualitative study among college women reported that uneasiness and distress may arise when sex is added to friendship because the new focus on sex may suppress emotional intimacy Lovejoy, As Vrangalova a suggested, when FWB relationships last longer, their effects may also be stronger and longer. Thus, girls who engage in more sexually intimate contact, such as penetrative FWB relationships, may suffer more, as indicated by both an increase in psychological distress and substance use, because they develop stronger attachment and expectations.
Our results did not support the third hypothesis that penetrative CSREs are associated with a greater decrease in psychological well-being than non-penetrative CSREs are.
This result is the opposite of some findings of a greater association between genital penetrative CSREs and lower psychological well-being among girls and young women e. However, these studies did not distinguish forms of CSREs, which may explain the difference in our results.
Regret may be strongly associated with such sexual touching and may increase psychological distress. They may thus blame themselves for not having respected themselves and not setting limits. Our study was the first to investigate self-esteem in association with CSREs among adolescents.
We found no change in self-esteem after CSREs for girls or boys, in contrast to the results obtained by Fielder and Carey and Vrangalova a , who used the same scale as ours i. The impact of CSREs on self-esteem appears to be different according to whether the individual is an adolescent or adult. Because CSREs did not have an important effect on later psychological well-being in our study, it appears plausible that CSREs themselves do not lead to suicidal ideation, which is an indicator of intense psychological pain.
This study had some limitations. First, we did not take into account the number of different casual sexual partners. Indeed, a high engagement with many different partners might be part of a constellation of behavioral problems Bersamin et al.
One potential confounding variable that might explain the association between CSREs and increased alcohol and drug use among girls is the exposure to settings where CSREs and consumption are more likely to occur, such as parties.
Future studies should control for the effect of this variable. Possible moderators that could be examined include the following: Identifying other variables that may be associated with alcohol and drug use, such as delinquency, poorer grades, and truancy e. General self-esteem was not associated with engagement in CSREs in our study, but a measure of sexual self-esteem could be interesting to examine among boys and girls.
Especially among girls, sexual self-esteem could indicate whether they feel more attractive after a CSRE Weaver et al. This research had many strengths; our results emphasize the relevance of continuing to distinguish forms of CSREs and levels of sexual intimacy in further research.
The findings highlight the importance of not underestimating sexual touching and verifying how girls subjectively live and interpret such contact. The distinction between alcohol and drugs revealed the use of diverse substances among girls who engaged in CSREs, which was a distinction that had not been made in other studies of casual sex among adolescents e. The inclusion of R 2 , which was not reported in previous studies, also showed the effect size and provided a more critical understanding of the significance of the associations we found.
Finally, the large subsample from a representative sample of adolescents allowed for generalization to sexually active high school students and is a major contribution, considering that few studies on CSREs among this population have been conducted. This is one of the few prospective studies of CSREs among adolescents, and it was also the first to report data on well-being outcomes other than depressive symptoms.
This work also distinguished the impact of two levels of sexual intimacy in FWB relationships and ONSs among adolescents. Several studies among adolescents and adults have documented that CSREs have no long-term impact on psychological well-being e. Our findings also support the hypothesis that CSREs have no major short-term impact among adolescents, with a small effect for girls only.
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