Condom Use and Error Experience Among Young Adolescents: Implications for Classroom Instruction

Mia Barrett, B. A. Laris, Pamela Anderson, Elizabeth Baumler, Andrea Gerber, Kari Kesler, Karin Coyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine condom failure and use error experienced by high school youth in two regions of the United States. Data are from a baseline survey of a randomized controlled trial to evaluate FLASH, a sexual health education curriculum for high school students. Participants were 1,597 ninth- or 10th-grade students in health class who had parental consent and who assented to participate in the study. This study examines condom use behavior among students who reported vaginal or anal sex at baseline. Of the 222 participants who reported having vaginal or anal sex in the 3 months prior to baseline survey, 180 of them reported using a condom at least once. Of these youth, 70.6% reported that they did not squeeze the tip of the condom before sex, 25.0% of youth reported that they did not roll the condom all the way down to the base of the penis, and 49.4% reported that they did not hold the base of the penis when pulling out; 36.9% reported experiencing condom breakage or slippage. The frequency of condom error and/or failure reported by young adolescents in this study indicates a need for further education on potential condom use errors with an emphasis on the correct steps for using a condom to prevent condom failure. High rates of error and failure suggest an opportunity for educators to tailor preexisting condom use interventions to further reinforce the skills necessary for effective condom use and to educate on what to do in the event of condom failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-317
Number of pages5
JournalHealth promotion practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2021


  • child/adolescent health
  • health education
  • health promotion
  • reproductive health
  • sexual health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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