, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 137-149

Self-Concept and Adolescents′ Refusal of Unprotected Sex: A Test of Mediating Mechanisms Among African American Girls

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Abstract

During adolescence, girls form self-concepts that facilitate the transition to adulthood. This process may entail engaging in risky sexual behaviors resulting in STD infection and pregnancy. This study assessed the relation between self-concept and unwanted, unprotected sex refusal among 335 African American adolescent girls. The second aim was to determine whether attributes of partner communication about sex would act as a mediating mechanism on this hypothesized relationship. These assessments were made within the context of several theoretical models (social cognitive theory and theory of gender and power). Self-concept was composed of self-esteem, ethnic identity, and body image, whereas attributes of partner communication about sex was conceptualized as frequency of communication, fear of condom use negotiation, and self-efficacy of condom use negotiation. Structural equation modeling was used to analyze data. The results showed that self-concept was associated with partner communication attributes about sex, which in turn, was associated with frequency of unprotected sex refusal. The hypothesized mediating role of partner communication was also supported. STD-HIV preventive interventions for this population may be more effective if they target self-concept as opposed to only self-esteem, incorporate an Afrocentric approach, and focus on enhancing several attributes of partner communication about sex.