Using Social Cognitive Theory to Explore the Influence of Sexual Health Education on Young Adults Restricted; Files & ToC

Phillips, Ashley Laura (2017)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/9z9030850?locale=en
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Abstract

Introduction. While 15-24 years olds are only 25% of the sexually active population in the U.S., they make up half of new sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Young adults face barriers to adopting positive sexual health behaviors--condom use, STI testing, partner communication--and receive sexual health education from multiple sources. Utilizing the Social Cognitive Theory, the current study assessed relationships between personal determinants (knowledge, self-efficacy), environmental determinants (education source, receipt of education before or after first sexual encounter), and behavioral determinants (condom use, STI testing, partner communication) to better understand the effects of different educational sources on young adults' sexual health behaviors.

Methods. This was a cross-sectional study of sexually active 18-24 year old college students and graduates. Data was gathered via on online survey on participant demographics, determinants of sexual health, and being from the Southern vs. non-Southern U.S.

Results. 272 individuals completed this study. Education from parents, friends, and doctors were each associated with condom use self-efficacy, STI testing knowledge, and STI testing behavior. Education from parents and doctors were each associated with STI testing self-efficacy and partner communication about STI testing and condom use, respectively. Education from doctors, as well as from a class or program in college, was associated with condom use during vaginal sex. The total number sexual health education sources was associated with condom use self-efficacy, STI testing knowledge, STI testing self-efficacy, and partner communication about STI testing behavior. In turn, condom use self-efficacy, STI testing knowledge, and STI testing self-efficacy were each associated with partner communication about STI testing and STI testing behavior. Finally, those from the Southern U.S. were more likely to have had an STI and received sexual health education from friends before their first sexual encounter, and less likely to have received sexual health education from middle or high school.

Implications. Initiatives to improve sexual health knowledge and self-efficacy should encourage doctors and parents in particular to educate their patients and children. Young adults appear to understand risk behaviors, but need to be given the tools they need to reduce risk through reinforcement from multiple different educational sources.

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