Acceptability of a stage-matched expert system intervention to increase condom use among women at high risk of HIV infection in New York City

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There is an urgent need to develop and implement effective methods for sexual behavior change to curb the spread of HIV. Condoms remain one of the most effective strategies for achieving this, yet consistent condom use is generally low, especially among those at highest risk. This article describes the acceptability of an interactive computer-based expert system designed to increase condom use in women at high risk of HIV infection. The expert system is based on the transtheoretical stages of change model. Using a computer, participants respond to questions about their attitudes and behavior toward using condoms and receive immediate feedback which is matched to their readiness to use condoms. The women were found to be at all stages of change for condom use, although a large proportion of the women (42%) were at early stages of behavior change because they were considering but not using condoms every time during sex with men. The expert system was found to be acceptable to this high-risk group of women. They almost unanimously agreed that they found the feedback useful, would return to use the system again, and would recommend it to a friend. These findings indicate that traditional intervention strategies which assume individuals are ready to use condoms consistently would be appropriate for only about one third of these women, underscoring the importance and potential utility of stage-matched interventions.

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AIDS Education and Prevention





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