Research type 
Year of report 

Summary of findings


The findings of wave seven of the research were:

Young people

  • Two fifths of the sample of young people reported having had intercourse; and just under one in thirty-five had experience of pregnancy, aged 17 or younger.
  • Results for awareness of publicity are based on the replies given by 13-17 year olds as this age group is the target audience of campaign publicity. Spontaneous awareness of advertising or publicity about sex and relationships fluctuated a little in line with the media activity, going from 54% at the benchmark to 51% at wave 7.
  • After prompting with a list of sources, awareness of advertising or publicity on this subject remained stable at all seven waves for 13-17s (82% at wave 7).
  • Recall of the publicity was quite general among respondents aged 13-17. The strongest message at wave 7 was ‘use contraception’ and this is consistent with previous waves.
  • Towards the end of the interview, all young people were shown a number of press and radio ads and asked if they recalled seeing or hearing them recently. With the slight fall in advertising activity around wave 6, recognition decreased a little to 73% and this held steady at wave 7 at 71% (72% among 13-17 year olds).
  • The single strongest message young people took from the radio and picture ads was the need to use contraception – a positive result, as this is one of the main aims of the campaign. All the other messages came through much less strongly.
  • When looking at statements the young people felt applied to the ads, contraception and condom use was once more the strongest message coming through, and especially the message of using contraception to prevent STIs and the general message about the importance of condom use (both chosen by 59% of 13 to 17 year olds). The ads were also well received and seen as well targeted and relevant.
  • The proportion of 13-17 year olds aware of Sexwise rose from a quarter at the benchmark to 38% at wave two, and has been climbing steadily since.
  • At wave seven a quarter of young people who had heard of Sexwise heard from a friend and a similar proportion had heard about Sexwise from a media source.
  • Total awareness of RUThinking is more sensitive to advertising activity, and the media activity around wave seven did not bring the level of awareness back to that seen at wave five
  • School was the source of information about sex and relationships most commonly mentioned by both boys and girls (77% of those aged 13-21)
  • Around two fifths of young people said they had received little or no information from their parents.
  • Over half of young people found it easy to talk to their mother about sex and relationships, but only around one in four said the same about their father.
  • Awareness of sources of advice on sex and relationships was high with around seven in ten able to cite some sources they could go to.
  • As at previous waves, around half said they had used a source of contraceptive advice. Girls were more likely to use family planning clinics or their GP; the most popular source for boys was their teacher or school nurse.
  • Awareness of contraceptive methods remained high. Two-fifths of young people correctly knew that the latest time after sex that emergency contraception would work is 72 hours.


  • At all seven waves of the research, parents were less likely than young people to be aware of advertising or publicity about young people and sex and relationships: 65% were aware at wave 7 after prompting with a list of sources, compared with 81% of young people aged 13-17.
  • Between a fifth and a quarter of parents at all seven waves were aware of publicity encouraging parents to talk to their children about sex and relationships.
  • Over two-fifths of parents felt they had given little or no information on sexual matters to their child. Four out of five said their child had had some lessons at school.
  • Over half of parents thought that their child would find it easy to talk to them about sex and relationships, although young people were less likely to say this.
  • When asked which professional sources of advice they would recommend children use to find out about contraception, parents were most likely to mention the GP/Practice Nurse or Family planning clinic.

Research objectives


The Tracking Survey aims to monitor awareness of the media activities executed as part of the Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, and, in the wider context of the Strategy as a whole, to monitor progress towards the goals of the Strategy.



Following an enquiry in 1999 by the Social Exclusion Unit into the main factors associated with teenage pregnancy, a major initiative, the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, was mounted in England to address this problem. The Teenage Pregnancy Unit was created to execute the strategy across all government departments and to work with different sectors.

The strategy adopts a two-pronged approach, embracing the dual aims of preventing early teenage pregnancies and supporting young parents. Media activities form a major component of this strategy, alongside education initiatives and health and social provision.

A consortium of researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), University College London (UCL) and the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) was commissioned by the Department of Health to conduct an independent evaluation of the strategy.

The tracking survey is one of the main ways in which the impact of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy's media campaign is monitored. The campaign, which targets both young men and young women, and focuses on the themes of taking control of your life, choices and personal responsibility, was launched in October 2000. The first wave of the tracking study was conducted prior to the start of the campaign, in order to provide baseline data for the campaign and for the strategy as a whole. The tracking survey is repeated three times a year and aims to collect information from both young people and parents. A key strand of the strategy is to encourage parents to talk to their children about sex and relationships. Although there has been no publicity on the subject, the survey tracks whether parents are already talking to their children, how easy they find this and what parents feel would help them better educate their children on the subject.

Research participants


This study spoke to young people aged 13-21 and parents of young people aged 10-17

Audience Summary




  • General population
  • Overall non-white findings given in the report (but no sample numbers provided)



Groups aged: 13-15, 16-17, 18-21, and parents of people aged 10-17

Social Class

  • AB
  • C1
  • C2
  • DE


Data collection methodology

Focus groups

Other data collection methodology


A random location methodology was used. It was designed to ensure that interviewers had minimum choice over who they would interview. A screening was carried out on the doorstep to ensure that quotas were filled for the various groups specified. Parents and young people from the same household were not both interviewed. Parental consent was sought for all young people aged under 16 before the interview. Respondents were interviewed in their homes, using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI). For the more sensitive parts of the questionnaire the interviewer handed the laptop to the respondent, for them to self-complete.

Data were weighted to correct for minor imbalances between the sample profile achieved and the target sample profile. The young people’s data were weighted by social grade, using data taken from BMRB’s Target Group Index (TGI) and TGI Youth. Parents’ data were weighted by gender, social grade and working status. The establishment data for the parents’ sample was taken from BMRB’s Access Omnibus survey

Sample size

  • 710 young people aged 13 – 21
  • 642 parents of young people aged 10-17
  • Some results were given for a ‘non-white’ group, but no sample selection or size information is provided

Detailed region


England – areas with higher prevalence of 13-44 year olds

Fieldwork dates


7 Oct – 5 Nov 2002

Agree to publish





This report is classified as sensitive as it deals with young people.

Research agency


COI Number


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