Are social organizational factors independently associated with a current bacterial sexually transmitted infection among urban adolescents and young adults?

Jacky M. Jennings, Devon J. Hensel, Amanda E. Tanner, Meredith L. Reilly, Jonathan M. Ellen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


This study explored the relationship between the social organization of neighborhoods including informal social control and social cohesion and a current bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) among adolescents and young adults in one U.S. urban setting. Data for the current study were collected from April 2004 to April 2007 in a cross-sectional household study. The target population included English-speaking, sexually-active persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years who resided in 486 neighborhoods. The study sample included 599 participants from 63 neighborhoods. A current bacterial STI was defined as diagnosis of a chlamydia and/or gonorrhea infection at the time of study participation. Participants reported on informal social control (i.e. scale comprised of 9 items) and social cohesion (i.e. scale comprised of 5 items) in their neighborhood. In a series of weighted multilevel logistic regression models stratified by gender, greater informal social control was significantly associated with a decreased odds of a current bacterial STI among females (AOR 0.53, 95% CI 0.34, 0.84) after controlling for individual social support and other factors. The association, while in a similar direction, was not significant for males (AOR 0.73, 95% CI 0.48, 1.12). Social cohesion was not significantly associated with a current bacterial STI among females (OR 0.85, 95% CI 0.61, 1.19) and separately, males (OR 0.98, 95% CI 0.67, 1.44). Greater individual social support was associated with an almost seven-fold increase in the odds of a bacterial STI among males (AOR 6.85, 95% CI 1.99, 23.53), a finding which is in contrast to our hypotheses. The findings suggest that neighborhood social organizational factors such as informal social control have an independent relationship with sexual health among U.S. urban youth. The causality of the relationship remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-60
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014



  • Adolescents
  • Infectious disease
  • Informal social control
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Social capital
  • Social epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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