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The effects of school poverty on adolescents' sexual health knowledge


  • This project was supported through funding by the Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Faculty Scholars Award program. This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due to Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 ( No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.


Using National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data, hierarchical linear modeling was conducted to estimate the association of school poverty concentration to the sexual health knowledge of 6,718 adolescents. Controlling for individual socio-economic status, school poverty had modest negative effects on sexual health knowledge. Although not directly associated with sexual health knowledge, after controlling for demographic characteristics, school poverty interactions showed that sexual health knowledge was associated with higher grade point average (GPA) and age. The combination of low GPA and high-levels of school poverty was especially detrimental for students' sexual health knowledge. There are differences in the sexual health knowledge of adolescents attending low poverty and high poverty schools that can be attributed to the school environment. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 35:231–241, 2012