Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Epidemiology and Population Health

Degree Program

Epidemiology, MSE

Committee Chair

Wallis, Anne Baber

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Baumgartner, Richard

Committee Member

Baumgartner, Richard

Committee Member

LaJoie, A. Scott

Author's Keywords

gambia; adolescent sexual health; adolescent reproductive health


Adolescence is a crucial period in human development. Knowledge and awareness about when to have children, when to have sex, and use of contraceptives impacts the chances of teenage pregnancy and risk of sexually transmitted diseases. The objective of this study is to determine the prevalence and associated risk factors related to age of sexual debut, teenage pregnancy, and use of contraceptives in the Gambia. This study also compares the data with 2014 survey research conducted in the Gambia. The total study population were 50 adolescents aged 13-21 years from Bafuluto and surrounding communities in the Gambia. Among 50 respondents, 40 were females and 10 were males, 58% of whom (29) report that they have had sexual intercourse in their life. Seven (24%) reported sexual debut between 13-15 years of age. Fifteen (52%) reported first sex between 16-18 years of age. Eight (28%) respondents reported to have used contraceptives during their first sexual intercourse. Nine (31%) reported to have been pregnant in their lives. When comparing data from 2018 with data from a similar study conducted in 2014, the percentage of adolescents who had sex increased by 25%. In the 2014 research, none of the respondents reported having an abortion but, 3 (10%) of the respondents reported having an abortion in the 2018 study. The prevalence of condom uses during last intercourse increased from 2014, 60 (54%) to 50 (63%) in 2018. With regard to the types of contraceptives used, condoms were most frequently reported at 50% of those who reported having sex (29) in 2018, and 11% in 2014. Only ten out of 50 respondents had attended the sexual education program conducted in 2015-16. This study is one of the few of its kind to report on adolescent sexual behavior in West Africa. While there are limitations, including small sample size and agecohort comparisons with the 2014 study, trends noted are of concern. Due to the differences in age cohort, many of the adolescents in this study may not have attended the 2015-16 reproductive health education intervention, thus limiting comparability and conclusions about the program.