Date of Award

12-1994

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

R. Wayne Fuqua

Second Advisor

Malcolm Robertson

Third Advisor

Bradley Huitema

Fourth Advisor

Gillian Stoltman

Abstract

Despite increasing evidence of the heterosexual transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among young adults, research with college students has been primarily restricted to descriptions of the levels of risky behavior and the correlates of that behavior. To date, few experimentally validated HIV prevention programs have been reported. Furthermore, the existing experimental investigations have seldom based an intervention on a thorough analysis of the barriers to the practice of safer sex.

Experiment One surveyed 195 heterosexual college students to assess HIV risk factors, including sexual behavior, risk perception, knowledge and 10 barriers to the consistent practice of "safer" sex. The results of Experiment One showed that heterosexual college students reported high levels of sexual intercourse, thus placing them at risk for the sexual transmission of HIV. An analysis of barriers to the consistent practice of "safer" sex showed that men most frequently reported two barriers related to attitudes that "safer" sex practices reduced the erotic value of sexual intercourse. The top barrier cited by females was the belief that they would not contract a sexually transmitted disease.

Based on these results, two versions of a "safer" sex video for heterosexual males were developed and experimentally evaluated. One version provided verbal instructions about how to use condoms and erotically incorporate them into sexual activity. The second version was identical to the first, but incorporated sexually explicit video clips to model the erotic techniques discussed in the video. Subjects included 80 male, heterosexual, college students, randomly assigned to one of the two video conditions or a control group.

Analysis of self-reported barriers and sexual behaviors showed minimal changes between and within groups as a function of viewing the video tapes. These results suggest the need to consider alternative interventions (e.g., multicomponent interventions) to increase "safer" sexual behavior and decrease "risky" sexual behavior. Despite the limited impact of the intervention, the ranking of barriers to the practice of safer sex provides some guidance as to which factors might be prioritized in efforts to promote "safer" sex.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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