Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



This bilingual report presents data from an ethnographic survey on the experiences of Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican mothers communicating with children ages 10 to 19 regarding sexuality and sexual health. Results of this survey will be used as baseline data to evaluate a media campaign promoting Puerto Rican mother-child communication. This Spanish media campaign was implemented from March to May, 2015 using public service announcements in television, radio, and newspapers and on public transportation.

In this report, we use three main concepts with specific definitions: mother, sexuality, and sexual health protection, defined as follows. Mother is defined as the female adult in the household who identified herself as having the primary mothering role for the children and adolescents at the time of the interview. This report includes data from 174 mothers, 21 grandmothers, 1 sister, 1 aunt, 1 foster-mother, and 7 in unspecified relationships. We refer to all these primary caretakers as “mothers.”

Sexuality is defined by the Pan American Health Organization as the “core dimension of being human which includes sex, gender, sexual and gender identity, sexual orientation, eroticism, emotional attachment/love, and reproduction.” In our study, we define sexuality as a manifestation of a person’s whole being, including thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, activities, practices, roles, and relationships. This definition included feelings such as love, emotions, and pleasure as well as communication about individual preferences such as one’s relationship with one’s own body and expressions of emotions to other people.

Sexual health protection entails knowledge of the functioning of organs related to sexuality and access to necessary skills and resources for protection against unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and other negative health outcomes.

The first section of this report includes descriptive data from a random sample of 205 interviews with Puerto Rican mothers with children 10 to 19 years old. This represents a response rate of 77 percent out of the 266 mothers identified as eligible for the study.

The second section makes recommendations to public health educators, practitioners, and policy makers in Springfield, MA on improving communication about sexuality and sexual health protection.

Community Engaged/Serving

Part of the UMass Boston Community-Engaged Teaching, Research, and Service Series.



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