Date of Publication


Faculty Mentor

Michelle Shepard


Background: There is a high prevalence of substance use, depressive symptoms, and high-risk sexual behaviors (HRSB) among adolescents, but the relationships between these variables is less clear. Objective: To identify associations between these behaviors and outcomes, this study aims to address how depressive symptoms paired with substance use impacts HRSB in adolescents. Methods: Adolescent self-reported depressive and suicidal symptoms, substance use, and HRSB were obtained from the 2015 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) (n= 17,041). The associations between exposures (substance use and depressive symptoms) with HRSB were studied. Variables were calculated using prevalence ratios with 95% confidence intervals (CI) and logistic regression to determine adjusted odds ratios (OR). Results: Adolescents who attempted suicide more than once were >5 times more likely to engage in 4+ HRSB (OR=5.19, P<.001). Low-level drug users were 1.76 times more likely to engage in 4+ HRSB (p=<0.05) and high-level users 6.69 times more likely (p<.001). Reporting sexual intercourse with same sex partners was significantly associated with HRSB, while reported sexual orientation was not. Conclusions: There are associations between both self-reported depressive symptoms and substance use with high-risk sexual behavior in adolescents.

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Available for download on Sunday, February 14, 2021

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