Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Colleen Redding

Abstract

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) continue to negatively affect young people in the United States, ages 15-24 years old, specifically impacting young woman at a disproportionately high rate. STI infection rates among young Black females are significantly higher than among their white counterparts, and this group continues to be identified as an at-risk population. Condom use has been assessed and encouraged as a prevention strategy for both STI's and unintended pregnancies. Previous research has identified a number of factors that influence condom use in adolescent females, however not enough research has focused on the impact of relational factors on condom use. The aim of this study was to assess interpersonal relational factors and their influence on consistent condom use among sexually active adolescent females. Additionally, this study can begin to fill a gap in research regarding the relational experiences of urban, adolescent females and their condom use behavior. This study assessed how relational factors: relationship duration, sexual relationship duration, relationship status, and perceived power and control were related to consistent condom use. The sample included 831 sexually active, adolescent females, ages 14-17 years old. Results suggest that both relationship duration and sexual relation duration have a significant association with stage of condom use. Relationship status (steady/not) did not show a significant association with stage of condom use, in this sample. Perceived relational power/control over condom use was significantly associated with stage of condom use These results are consistent with the literature in suggesting that as relationship duration increases, the perceived risk for STI prevention may decrease, explaining the increase in risky sex associated with longer relationships. Further research is needed to continue to assess the dynamics of adolescent relationships along with the influence of interpersonal relational characteristics on consistent condom use within this population.

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