Predictors of Timely Initiation of Gynecologic Care among Urban Adolescent Girls

M. Diane McKee, Jason Fletcher, Clyde B. Schechter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine whether or not critical sexual health services are delivered to low-income girls, and to identify predictors of timely initiation of gynecologic care for sexually active adolescent girls. Few studies have addressed the interval between sexual debut and risk-appropriate primary care services. Methods: We conducted an anonymous, cross-sectional, laptop-based, self-administered branching survey of 9th-12th grade girls in three Bronx public high schools (n = 819). Results: Over half (60.0%) had an opportunity for confidential care at last clinical visit. Only 27% of sexually active girls had informed any clinician that they had been sexually active; 45% had ever had a pelvic exam. The mean interval between sexual debut and initial pelvic exam (our proxy for gynecologic care) was 13.3 months (range = 0-70 months, SD = 11.8 months). Cox proportional hazard modeling identified four predictors of time to first pelvic exam: experience of sexually transmitted infection (STI) or pregnancy (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.9), having disclosed sexual activity to any clinician (HR = 1.7), access to confidential care (HR = 3.1), and high self-efficacy for accessing confidential care (HR = 2.1). Conclusions: Most sexually active girls have not told a clinician that they are sexually active and many have not had counseling related to sexual health. Delay between sexual debut and initial pelvic exam is substantial for low-income urban girls, and often occurs in reaction to pregnancy or STI. Setting of usual care does not predict timely gynecologic care, but access to confidential care does.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-191
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Adolescence
  • Female
  • Gynecology
  • Minorities
  • Primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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