Examining the theory of reasoned action in relation to sexual risk-taking among African American women
Dunn, Jamylah Kache
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In recent decades the HIV/AIDS epidemic has emerged as a devastating phenomenon disrupting the lives of an exponentially growing number of individuals, families, and communities. The incidence rate of AIDS for African American women is 5 times that of other members of the U. S. population. This study sought to understand the contextual, social, and behavioral framework through which this disproportionate risk occurs. The theory of reasoned action (TRA) was examined in relation to three sexual health-promoting behaviors (i.e. condom use, regular STD testing, and discussing sexual risk with one's partner) within this at-risk demographic. Additionally, factors related to sociocultural issues specific to African American women were evaluated. Results supported the TRA model in relation to two of three sexual health-promoting behaviors examined, however the model was not fully supported for condom use. The differential importance of various referent norms (i.e. ethnic, gender, and partner) were evaluated via hierarchical regression with partner norms accounting for the largest amount of variance in intention to engage in all three behaviors studied. Relationship intimacy and perception of a sex-ratio imbalance were evaluated as moderators of intention with significant results found only for relationship intimacy. Findings suggest that perception of one's romantic partner's beliefs as well as relationship intimacy are particularly salient predictive factors of intention for women within this demographic. Findings also implicate differential cognitive antecedents for these varying health-promoting behaviors. Implications and recommendations are discussed.