Public defence in health science: Carina Petersson

Thesis title:

Will you judge me if I tell? ...about youth’s sexual behaviour and exposure to violence

Third-cycle subject area:

Health science


Faculty of Health and Life Sciences


Friday 14 April 2023 at 10:00

Place for thesis:

Room Fullriggaren, Building Magna, Kalmar and via Zoom

External reviewer:

Docent Monica Christianson, Umeå University

Examining committee:

Professor Gisela Priebe, Karlstad University
Docent Steven Lucas, Uppsala University
Professor Cecilia Fagerström, Department of Health and Caring Sciences, Linnaeus University


Professor Kristofer Årestedt, Department of Health and Caring Sciences, Linnaeus University


Professor Marie Oscarsson, Department of Health and Caring Sciences, Linnaeus University


Professor Kristofer Årestedt, Department of Health and Caring Sciences, Linnaeus University


Friday 24 March 2023 at 10:00 at University Library, Kalmar

In order to receive the Zoom link for the thesis defense, please contact Faculty Administrator Pontus Bergström: pontus.bergstrom@lnu.se


Background: In Sweden, youth sexual health is worse than that of other residents. Youth also report exposure to violence to a greater extent, threatening their health.

Aim: The aim was to investigate youth’s sexual behaviour, their exposure to violence and self-rated health and its potential relationship, and explore whether youth exposed to violence disclose this.

Method: Cross-sectional studies include data from a web survey among exchange students and youth visiting a youth centre (I–III). Besides background questions, online questionnaires contained validated questions and instruments covering sexual behaviour, exposure to violence, and mental health. Descriptive and analytical statistics were used. A qualitative study was conducted where abused youth were interviewed, and the data were analysed with content analysis (IV).

Results: Most outgoing exchange students rated their health highly, and over half had received information regarding HIV/sexually transmitted infection or safer sex before their trip (I). Eight out of ten exchange students reported at least one sexual risk behaviour. Among youth visiting the youth centre, a greater proportion of teenagers reported sexual debut before age 15 compared with young adults (II). A greater proportion of young adults indicated having had a sexually transmitted infection compared with teenagers (II). Associations were shown between several sexual risk behaviours and exposure to violence, while no difference was shown between the age groups regarding the occurrence of violence (II). Nine out of ten youth rated their health as high, but four out of ten reported being exposed to violence in their lifetime (III). A larger proportion of those exposed to violence reported low self-rated health compared with those not exposed to violence (III). All the youth interviewed expressed that being exposed to violence resulted in losing their security; they described the importance of being questioned about violence, and most of them wanted to disclose having been exposed to violence (IV).

Conclusion: A high incidence of sexual risk behaviour and exposure to violence and the relationship between these experiences was demonstrated in youth. Midwives need to ask sensitive questions to identify youth who risk their health and offer advice or support. How questions are posed can determine whether youth disclose exposure to violence.

Keywords: exchange students, health promotion, prevention, sexual behaviour, self-rated health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, young people, youth clinic, violence