Adolescents’ Sexual Wellbeing in Southwestern Uganda: A Cross-Sectional Assessment of Body Image, Self-Esteem and Gender Equitable Norms

Elizabeth Kemigisha, Viola Nyakato, Katharine Bruce, Gad Ndaruhutse Ruzaaza, wendo Mlahagwa, Anna Bams Ninsiima, Gily Coene, Els Margaretha Leye, Kristien Michielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: Measures of sexual wellbeing and positive aspects of sexuality in the World Health
Organization definition for sexual health are rarely studied and remain poorly understood, especially
among adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa. The objective of this study was to assess sexual wellbeing
in its broad sense—i.e., body image, self-esteem, and gender equitable norms—and associated factors
in young adolescents in Uganda. A cross-sectional survey of adolescents ages 10–14 years in schools
was carried out between June and July 2016. Among 1096 adolescents analyzed, the median age
was 12 (Inter-Quartile Range (IQR): 11, 13) and 58% were female. Self-esteem and body image
scores were high with median 24 (IQR: 22, 26, possible range: 7–28) and median 22 (IQR: 19, 24,
possible range: 5–25) respectively. Gender equitable norms mean score was 28.1 (SD 5.2: possible
range 11–44). We noted high scores for self-esteem and body image but moderate scores on gender
equitable norms. Girls had higher scores compared to boys for all outcomes. A higher age and being
sexually active were associated with lower scores on gender equitable norms. Gender equitable
norms scores decreased with increasing age of adolescents. Comprehensive and timely sexuality
education programs focusing on gender differences and norms are recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Article number372
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2018


  • Body image
  • Gender norms
  • Self-esteem
  • Sexual health
  • Sexuality
  • Uganda
  • Young adolescents
  • Child Welfare/psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Gender Identity
  • Rural Population/statistics & numerical data
  • Body Image/psychology
  • Self Concept
  • Adolescent
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexuality/psychology
  • Female
  • Sexual Behavior/psychology
  • Child
  • Urban Population/statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Education


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