Application of the Theory of Reasoned Action to Female Adolescent Sexual Behavior




Gilbert-Cronen, Vanessa S.


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Gilbert-Cronen, Vanessa S., Application of the Theory of Reasoned Action to Female Adolescent Sexual Behavior. Doctor of Philosophy (Biomedical Sciences), May, 2000, 143pp., 25 tables, 8 illustrations, references, 170 titles. Objectives. This study evaluated the Theory of Reasoned Actions for its effectiveness in the prediction of the sexual intercourse intentions of a group of female high school adolescents. An expanded model which included a self-esteem measure was also assessed for its contribution to the model. Additionally, six-month follow up data was used to determine whether sexual intercourse intention predicted reported sexual behavior at follow-up. Methods. Data from the National Urban Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (NUAPPP), a longitudinal study conducted in 1997 and 1998 was used for this study. Tenth grade adolescent high school females (n=235) from two sites in Texas were selected to conduct a partial test of the Theory of Reasoned Action. The TRA model constructs attitudes and subjective norm were operationalized so that beliefs about sexual intercourse, attitudes towards pregnancy, perceived sexual beliefs about friends and parental communication beliefs were evaluated for their individual and combined effectiveness in the prediction of sexual intercourse intention. Results. Logistic analysis of individual model components showed significant associations between sexual beliefs (OR=5.75; 95% CI = 2.75, 11.98), pregnancy attitudes (OR=3.14; 95% CI=1.53, 6.44) perceived friend’s beliefs (OR=3.97; 95% CI = 1.57, 10.04) and sexual intercourse intention. When combined as a model, only sexual beliefs remained a significant predictor of intention (OR=4.02; 95% CI=1.79, 9.04). Evaluation of external variables showed past behavior to be a significant predictor of sexual intercourse intention (OR=32.59; 95% CI=12.56, 84.53). Conclusions. This study found the Theory of Reasoned Action to be inadequate in the prediction of adolescent female sexual intercourse intentions. The facts that individual constructs were significant predictors indicates a need for further research to understand the relationships between attitudes, beliefs, intention and behavior.