Rural and Urban Differences in Sexual Behaviors Among Adolescents in Florida Academic Article uri icon


  • The national teen birth rate is higher in rural compared to urban areas. While national data suggest rural areas may present higher risk for adverse sexual health outcomes among adolescents, it is unknown whether there are differences within the state of Florida. Overall, Florida has poorer sexual health indicators for adolescents compared to national rates. The purpose of this study was to assess differences in sexual behaviors among Florida adolescents by rural-urban community location. This study includes baseline data from a randomized controlled trial conducted in Florida high schools. Of the 6316 participants, 74% were urban and 26% were rural. Participants responded to questions on sexual behaviors, sexual behavior intentions, and demographics. We estimated the effect of rural-urban status on risk outcomes after controlling for demographic variables using generalized linear mixed models. More teens from rural areas reported ever having sex (24.0%) compared to urban teens (19.7%). No significant differences were observed for most of sexual behaviors assessed. Nonetheless, urban participants were less likely to intend to have sex without a condom in the next year compared to rural participants (aOR = 0.76, 95% CI 0.63-0.92). Overall, there were no major differences in sexual behaviors between rural and urban adolescents in Florida. However, sexual intentions differed between rural and urban adolescents; specifically, rural adolescents were more likely to intend to have sex without a condom in the next year compared to urban adolescents. Understanding the specific disparities can inform contraception and sexual health interventions among rural youth.


  • Thompson, Erika L
  • Mahony, Helen
  • Noble, Charlotte
  • Wang, Wei
  • Ziemba, Robert
  • Malmi, Markku
  • Maness, Sarah B
  • Walsh-Buhi, Eric R
  • Daley, Ellen M

publication date

  • 2018