Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Nursing

Major Professor

Mary E. Evans, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Janie Canty-Mitchell, PhD.

Keywords

Sexually transmitted infections, Adolescent girls, Communication systems, Social cognitive theory, Media

Abstract

Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a national priority for several reasons including its endemic/pandemic status and economic demand. Adolescents 15 to 24 years old who are sexually active acquire nearly half of all new Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Recent findings from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) have documented increased teen birth rates, escalating births to unwed mothers, and STIs ascribed to one in four adolescent females, are reasons to enhance effective prevention efforts. The specific aim of the study, based on Bandura's social cognitive theory, was to test associations among communication system methods and HIV/AIDS self-efficacy, perceived risk, knowledge, and sexual decision-making among older adolescent females. Communication systems consist of interpersonal relationships, mass and print media.

Research questions are: (1) What are the associations among demographic variables (age, race/ethnicity, education, socioeconomic status) in young women and the types of communication systems preferred (media and interpersonal)? (2) What are the associations among the types of communication systems preferred by young women and person factors (HIV/AIDS self-efficacy, perceived risk, and knowledge)? (3) What are the associations among the types of communication systems preferred by young women (media, print, interpersonal) and behavior (sexual-decision making)? (4) What are the associations among young women's person factors (HIV/AIDS self-efficacy, perceived risk, knowledge) and behaviors (sexual decision-making)? The study used a non-experimental cross sectional design. The sample included 866 females, 18 to 21 years old, attending the the second largest public university or a historically black university in Florida.

Data was collected using validated instruments transcribed into an electronic survey program. Data analysis consisted of frequency distributions, descriptive statistics, and Multiple Regression Analysis. Results indicated that there were associations beween all proposed constructs that constitute the theoretically derived conceptional model. Interpersonal relationships explained the most variance (parents--22%; partners-12%) when associated with other communication systems. Overall, students reported that parents had more influence on their decisions with regards to basic beliefs, value systems, sexuality, dating, and alcohol use. The communication systems associated with older adolescents' sexual decision-making may assist public health advocates in developing related preventive interventions for young adult females.

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