From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

Young People's Sexual Relationships

The SHARE trial in eastern Scotland provided the first detailed sexual behaviour histories from a large sample of young teenagers in Britain. Two cohorts of young people (N = 7,616) were followed through self-complete questionnaires from the age of 13/14 to the age of 19/20, although there was very high attrition from the study after the second follow-up at age 15/16. This has provided longitudinal data on the social factors shaping early sexual relationships and sexual health behaviours.


Analyses have focussed on:

  • predictors of early sexual activity and contraceptive or condom use
  • level of regret of early sexual relationships
  • the diversity of young people's sexual experiences
  • why some sexually active young teenagers become pregnant and not others
  • parental influences on sexual behaviour
  • the influence of schools on sexual behaviour and smoking beyond the formal curriculum School research in Youth Programme.
  • young people's use of sexual health services
  • understanding the links between teenage substance use and risky sexual behaviour
  • investigating whether experience of sex or drugs between 14 and 16 is associated with changed expectations for careers and relationships
  • exploring how demographic factors, aspirations, past behaviour and self esteem affect young people's attitudes towards condoms and condom use.


The RIPPLE trial of a peer sex education programme in central and southern England collected similar data to SHARE from 8,766 young people, with many questionnaire measures standardised. In collaboration with Judith Stephenson (University College London), Vicki Strange (Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education), Chris Bonnell (University of Oxford) et al., the SHARE and RIPPLE data sets have been merged. This has provided greater statistical power to explore predictors of under 16 pregnancy for both females and males, and to analyse young people's subjective experience of their sexual relationships.



Parkes A, Henderson M, Wight D, Nixon C. Is parenting associated with teenagers’ early sexual risk-taking, autonomy and relationship with sexual partners?. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2011;43:30-40

pubmed  open access  

Parkes A, Strange V, Wight D, Bonell C, Copas A, Henderson M, Buston K, Stephenson J, Johnson A, Allen E, Hart G. Comparison of teenagers' early same-sex and heterosexual behavior: UK data from the SHARE and RIPPLE studies. Journal of Adolescent Health 2011;48:27-35

pubmed  open access  

Wight D. The effectiveness of school based sex education: what do rigorous evaluations in Britain tell us?. Education and Health 2011;29:67-73

open access  


Parkes A, Wight D, Henderson M, Stephenson J, Strange V. Contraceptive method at first sexual intercourse and subsequent pregnancy risk: findings from a secondary analysis of sixteen year-old girls from the RIPPLE and SHARE studies. Journal of Adolescent Health 2009;44:55-63

pubmed  open access  


Henderson M, Butcher I, Wight D, Williamson LM, Raab G. What explains between-school differences in rates of sexual experience?. BMC Public Health 2008;8:53

pubmed  open access  

Wight D, Parkes A, Strange V, Allen E, Bonell C, Henderson M. The quality of young people’s heterosexual relationships: a longitudinal analysis of factors shaping subjective experience. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2008;40:226-237

pubmed  open access  


Parkes A, Wight D, Henderson M, Hart G. Explaining associations between adolescent substance use and condom use. Journal of Adolescent Health 2007;40:180e1-18

pubmed  open access  

Williamson LM. Contraceptive careers: young women's choices, influences and risks [PhD], MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit 2007.

open access  


Wight D, Williamson LM, Henderson M. Parental influences on young people's sexual behaviour: a longitudinal analysis. Journal of Adolescence 2006;29:473-94



Wight D, Henderson M. The diversity of young people's heterosexual behaviour. In: Duffy M, Burtney E, editors Young people and sexual health: social, political and individual contexts. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004:15-33.


Henderson M, Wight D, Raab G, Abraham C, Buston K, Hart G, Scott S. Heterosexual risk behaviour among young teenagers in Scotland. Journal of Adolescence 2002;25:483-494



Wight D, Henderson M, Raab G, Abraham C, Buston K, Scott S, Hart G. Regretted sexual intercourse among young teenagers in Scotland: a cross-sectional survey. BMJ 2000;320:1243-4