An evaluation of the protection motivation theory using sexual behavior in college students

Andrea Pascarelli, Pace University

Abstract

Higher risk sexual behavior is a growing health concern among adolescents and young adults. The research literature has identified many factors that contribute to one's decision to engage in higher risk sexual behaviors. For this study, Roger's Protection Motivation Theory was used to attempt to understand cognitive processes that influence decisions to use or not use protection during sexual intercourse. Other variables such as attitudes toward condoms and social support were also used to better understand how they influence behavior. ^ This study will examine higher risk sexual behavior using the predictive ability of the Protection Motivation Theory health model (PMT). This study will investigate an individual's level of motivation for protection, as assessed using the components of the PMT. Specifically we will assess how individual perception such as appraisal of threat and coping ability are associated with sexual behavior. Another component of this study aims to understand individual intentions to use condoms by examining their attitudes toward condoms. A third part of this study will assess how social support (from family and friends) relates to or protects against risky sexual behavior. The goal of this research is to address the need to identify risk and protective factors in high risk sexual behavior. The sample consisted of 163 sexually active undergraduate college students. Participants completed a self-report survey designed for this study which included measures of perceived risk, condom use self-efficacy, attitudes toward condoms, and social support. ^ The results from the study revealed that college students are engaging in higher risk sexual behaviors. Approximately two third of the participants in this study were inconsistently using condoms. Half of the students in this study did not use condoms at last sexual experience. The majority of the participants in the study did not perceive being at risk when engaging in sexual intercourse; therefore, they did not report engaging in higher risk sexual behaviors. Most of the participants in the study did not perceive themselves at risk of obtaining or spreading an STD. The majority of the students were confident in their ability to use a condom and take precautionary measures from STDs. With regard to attitudes toward condoms, a large majority of the students generally had positive attitudes toward using condoms. Similarly, a large proportion of students reported feeling high levels of social support from their families, and an even larger proportion reported feeling high levels of social support from their friends. ^ It is essential to understand why adolescents and young adults are engaging in higher risk sexual behaviors in order to develop interventions and prevention programs. Psychologists and other mental health care professionals should take a leadership role in developing programs to prevent this growing health concern. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Behavioral|Health Sciences, Public Health|Psychology, Cognitive

Recommended Citation

Andrea Pascarelli, "An evaluation of the protection motivation theory using sexual behavior in college students" (January 1, 2005). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI3177845.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI3177845

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