Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Sexual Knowledge, attitudes and behaviors among unmarried migrant female workers in China: a comparative analysis

Jie Tang12, Xiaohui Gao1, Yizhen Yu1, Niman Isse Ahmed1, Huiping Zhu1, Jiaji Wang2* and Yukai Du1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Child, Adolescence & Woman Health Care, School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science & Technology, 13th Hangkong Road, Wuhan 430030, P.R. China

2 Guangzhou Medical College, 195th Dongfengxi Road, Guangzhou 510182, P.R China

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:917  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-917

Published: 12 December 2011



In recent years, many studies have focused on adolescent's sex-related issues in China. However, there have been few studies of unmarried migrant females' sexual knowledge, attitudes and behaviors, which is important for sexual health education and promotion.


A sample of 5156 unmarried migrant female workers was selected from three manufacturing factories, two located in Shenzhen and one in Guangzhou, China. Demographic data, sexual knowledge, attitudes and behaviors were assessed by self-administered questionnaires. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to examine the factors associated with premarital sexual intercourse.


The average age of the unmarried female workers included in the sample was 20.2 years, and majority of them showed a low level of sex-related knowledge. Females from the west of China demonstrated a significant lower level of sex-related knowledge than those from the eastern or central provinces (p < 0.05). Approximately 13% of participants held a favorable attitude towards premarital sexual intercourse, and youths from the east/central were more likely to have favorable attitudes compared with those from the west (p < 0.05). About 17.0% of the unmarried female workers reported having engaged in premarital sexual intercourse, and females from the east/central were more likely to have experienced premarital sexual intercourse than those from the west (p < 0.05). Multivariate analysis revealed that age, education, current residential type, dating, sexual knowledge, attitudes, and pattern of communication were significantly associated with premarital sexual intercourse.


The unmarried migrant female workers lack sexual knowledge and a substantial proportion of them are engaged in premarital sexual behaviors. Interventions aimed at improving their sexual knowledge and related skills are needed.