Sexual and contraceptive behavior, knowledge and attitudes of adolescents in Croatia


Sexual and contraceptive behavior, knowledge and attitudes of

adolescents in Croatia

V Hirl-Heej, N ikanic-Dugi, J Dobravc-Poljak, ML Domljan, N


Children’s Hospital Zagreb – University of Zagreb Medical

School, Zagreb, Croatia

Objectives: To obtain data on sexual and contraceptive

behavior of adolescents and most common risky behavioral patterns, which could

produce unfavorable effects on the reproductive health; to establish the level

of knowledge about reproduction, familly planning, contraception, sexually

transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS and attitudes concerning reproductive and sexual

health problems. The results should serve as the basis for development of health

and sexual education programs for adolescents.

Design & Methods: The study was done on 1972 students

of both sexes, aged 15 – 19 years, classes I to IV, from 8 secondary schools

of different profiles in Zagreb, Croatia. The data were obtained by

self-administered anonymous quiestionnaire contained 64 questions, in 4

categories (demographic, behavioral, knowledge, attitudes).

Results: 25.8% of girls and 41.6% of boys, secondary

school students at the age of 15 to 19 had sexual experience. At the age of 15

very few adolescents are sexually active (6.9% of girls and 13.2% of boys), and

at the age of 19, 72.9% of girls and 76.5% of boys are sexually active. 24.0% of

sexually active adolescent girls and 39.5% of boys start with sexual relations

early, at the age of 15 and less. 23.6% of sexually active girls and 44.6% of

boys have had 3 and more lifetime sexual partners. 13.2% of sexually active

girls used no means/methods of contraception in their first sexual intercourse,

and 19.5% of them used unreliable contraceptive methods such as coitus

interruptus and natural methods. 58.8% of adolescents used condoms and only 6.6%

used oral contraceptives. The major sources of information about protection from

unplanned pregnancy and STDs are journals and TV. Knowledge about contraception

and STDs is very low. With negative attitudes toward the use of contraception,

especially the hormonal pill, the result is the risk-taking sexual behavior of

Croatian adolescents.

Conclusions: Sexually active adolescents are exposed to

risk of the unplanned pregnancy and STDs and know very little about consequences

to the reproductive health. A systematic implementation of health and sexual

education programs for adolescents concerning reproductive and sexual health is


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