Substance abuse diagnostic test 'predicts high-risk sexual behavior in teens'

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Washington, Oct 18 (ANI): CRAFFT, the diagnostic test developed and currently being employed at Children's Hospital Boston, allows primary care physicians to accurately screen teens for high risk drug and alcohol use in a matter of minutes. Now, a new study, has established that the test can also identify teens that are more likely to be engaging in high-risk sexual behaviours.

Researchers at Children's Hospital Boston found that teens who screened positive for substance use had significantly greater odds of having sexual contact after using drugs or alcohol.

According to the findings, these teens were more likely to have unprotected sex, multiple sexual partners and even a sexually transmitted illness.

The cross-sectional survey consisted of 305 adolescents from ages 12- to 18-years-old in 3 different urban clinics.

Participants were asked the CRAFFT questions, and also completed a self-administered questionnaire about high-risk sexual behaviours.

Of those who screened positive, 42.6 percent reported having sexual contact without a condom, 26.1 percent after drinking alcohol, 15.6 percent after drug use and 21.7 percent with a partner who had been drinking alcohol.

"Primary care physicians are on the frontline of identifying adolescents who are at-risk and all should be screened with questions like these at every routine medical visit," said Sharon Levy, MD, co-author of the study and physician in the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Children's.

"Clinicians should be prepared to discuss high risk sexual behaviours with their patients along with the dangers of engaging in sexual activity while intoxicated. Something as simple as asking an adolescent a few questions during a clinical appointment might make the difference," Levy added.

The study appears in the Journal of Adolescent Health. (ANI)

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