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Alcohol use, cigarette smoking, vaping and number of sexual partners: A cross-sectional study of sexually active, ethnically diverse, inner city adolescents

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Rosalie Bartholomew, Sarah Kerry-Barnard, Nicholas Beckley-Hoelscher, Rachel Phillips, Fiona Reid, Charlotte Fleming, Agata Lesniewska, Freya Yoward, Pippa Oakeshott

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Expectations
Accepted/In press2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: Pippa Oakeshott is a member of the NIHR South London Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care, and of the STI consortium funded under the UKCRC Translational Infection Research Initiative. Fiona Reid is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre based at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London. The other authors declare that they have no competing interests. e 2 Funding Information: This paper presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme (Grant Reference Number PB‐PG‐1014‐35007). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. The funding body had no role in the design of the study, the collection, analysis or interpretation of the data, or the write‐up of the manuscript. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. Health Expectations published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


Context: There are few UK data on the prevalence and clustering of risky behaviours in ethnically diverse adolescents. Objectives: To investigate the prevalence of reported alcohol use, smoking and vaping, and explore whether these behaviours are associated with increased numbers of sexual partners. Design: Questionnaire survey of ‘Test n Treat’ chlamydia screening trial participants. Setting and participants: Sexually active students attending six London technical colleges completed confidential questionnaires and provided genitourinary samples. Results: The median age of the 509 participants was 17 years (IQR: 16-18), 47% were male, 50% were of black ethnicity, 55% reported ≥2 sexual partners in the past year (67% of males and 45% of females) and 6.2% had chlamydia infection and 0.6% gonorrhoea. Almost half (48%) reported getting drunk in the past month, 33% smoked cigarettes and 7% had ever vaped. A larger percentage of students with ≥2 sexual partners than 0-1 partners reported getting drunk in the past month (53.7%, 144/268% versus 42.2% 94/223, adjusted prevalence ratio: 1.33, 95% confidence interval: 1.11-1.61) and smoking cigarettes (36.6%, 100/273% versus 30.2%, 67/222, 1.34 (1.05-1.70)). By contrast, multiple sexual partners were not associated with vaping or chlamydia infection, but numbers were small. Conclusions: We found high prevalences of risky behaviour and an association between multiple sexual partners and smoking and/or getting drunk. Findings support the introduction of compulsory sex and relationship education in UK secondary schools, including information about the adverse effects of alcohol and smoking. Public contribution: Participants helped with study design, conduct and interpretation.

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