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Adolescent relationship abuse and reproductive and sexual coercion among teens

Miller, Elizabetha,b; McCauley, Heather L.a,b

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: October 2013 - Volume 25 - Issue 5 - p 364–369
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0b013e328364ecab

Purpose of review Adolescent relationship abuse (ARA) involves a range of coercive and violent behaviours in romantic or consensual relationships. ARA is prevalent and is associated with multiple poor reproductive and sexual health outcomes, especially for adolescent girls.

Recent findings Recent studies and reviews of ARA research point to the prevalence of ARA, health consequences of ARA and the contribution of social and cultural norms to ARA perpetration, all of which can inform how to address ARA more effectively with adolescents. Emerging research on reproductive and sexual coercion among adolescents and technology-based abuse is directly relevant to the reproductive and sexual healthcare of adolescents.

Summary Current findings underscore the extent to which young, reproductive-aged women may particularly benefit from more effective methods to address ARA. In line with recent American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendations, clinicians should assess for and counsel their adolescent female patients about how ARA and reproductive and sexual coercion may influence adolescent girls’ reproductive health. Recent evidence also highlights that ARA manifests in ways that may be less recognizable to clinicians, such as cyber dating abuse. Finally, ARA prevention and intervention efforts should continue to promote gender equity and address the social and cultural norms that shape adolescent girls’ experiences of abuse.

aDivision of Adolescent Medicine, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

bDepartment of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Correspondence to Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, 3420 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA. Tel: +1 412 692 8504; fax: +1 412 692 5145; e-mail:

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins