Popular Music and Adolescent Sexual Health

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O'Leary, Patrick
Boddy, Jennifer
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Harris, Neil
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Background There is public concern about the impact that exposure to sexual content in music is having on the sexual health of adolescents. In particular, exposure to sexual content in music has been identified as adversely impacting young people’s behaviour, and attitudes towards gender. In contrast, popular music has also been identified as a culturally appropriate tool to engage young people in sexual health education and promotion programs. By taking a broad definition of sexual health, this dissertation addresses knowledge gaps especially in regards to gender and body image. Consequently, this dissertation includes three studies focusing on the relationship between exposure to sexual content in popular music and adolescent sexual health, as well as the use of music in adolescent sexual health promotion. Method This dissertation includes three studies. The first study is a systematic literature review guided by the PRISMA (Moher, Liberati, Tetzlaff, & Altman, 2009) approach. The review involved three systematic searches for literature and aimed to synthesise: (i) research that investigated the association between exposure to music with sexual content and adolescents’ sexual behaviour, body image satisfaction, and attitudes towards gender, and (ii) research that explored the use of popular music for adolescent sexual health education and promotion initiatives. The second study involved the administration of a cross-sectional survey (n=565) and investigated the association between exposure to sexual content in music audio and video on adolescents’ attitudes towards women and their perception of their body image. Finally, the third study included group interview discussions and interviews with adolescents’ (n=7) to ascertain the messages that they receive from the music they listen to, how they thought exposure to these messages impacted their sexual health and how they thought popular music could be used in their sexual health education.

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Thesis Type
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Degree Program
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Human Services and Social Work
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Adolescent sexual health
Popular music
Sex and music
Sexual health promotion
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