Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Nursing


Nursing and Public Health


Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr. Rycki Hendrika Maltby

Second Advisor

Ms. Sue Robinson


The purpose of this study was to explore the factors Malawian adolescents from co-educational secondary schools identified as affecting their ability to discuss sexual issues. A sample of 149 adolescent students from the coeducational secondary schools of Lilongwe and Mchinji districts was surveyed. Their ages ranged from 14-18 years of age. The schools and participants were chosen using cluster-sampling and data were obtained via a questionnaire. The questionnaire comprised of demographic variables, sources of sexual information, participant's sexual life, the sexual issues participants consider important and their ability to communicate sexual issues comfortably with different community members. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, frequencies, Chi squares and analysis of variance. Findings showed that almost all the participants had reached puberty, with the mean puberty age being 14.6 (SD = 1.2). Thirty-nine percent of the participants were sexually active with a mean age at which sexual intercourse was initiated at age 14.73 (SD = 2.5). Gender and age were significantly associated with having sexual intercourse. The mean number of sexual partners was 1.6 (SD = 1.3). The participants primarily obtained sexual information from their friends. Males were more comfortable discussing most sexual issues with other males while females were comfortable discussing the majority of sexual issues with both males and females. A relationship between the study and Social Cognitive Theory was made. The study has implications to nursing practice, research and education. The findings suggest the need for sex education in Malawi, be it at home, school, church or a health facility. In addition to teaching adolescents what they would like to know, emphasis is to be on information that would enable them to make informed sexual decisions, negotiate sexual activity, practice safe sex or abstain from teenage sexual activity.