Using the ecological risk/protective theory to examine HIV-related risk/protective factors among African-American adolescents /

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Brown, Charles
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Middle Tennessee State University
The Ecological Risk/Protective Theory has been commonly used to understand problematic and protective behavior in youth. To date, several studies have examined differences in risk/protective factors that influence sexual initiation and risky behaviors between majority and minority populations; however, little is known about testing the theory among a population comprised solely of minority youth. The purpose of this study was to utilize the Ecological Risk/Protective Theory to examine risk/protective factors that are related to African-American adolescents.
Data were collected from 456 African-American adolescents in the urban high schools of Nashville. Thirteen survey items provided information on reported sexual behavior, demographics, and risk/protective factors. The dependent variable consisted of three levels of sexual activity reported by those who demonstrate: primary abstinence (n = 131), secondary abstinence (n = 54), and sexually active (n = 148). All participants with missing data on the outcome variable were excluded from the data set, thus, a total of 333 participants' data were utilized in the final analysis.
The data was analyzed using SPSS Answer Tree Version 3.1 with the exhaustive CHAID (Chi-squared Automatic Interaction Detection) method. The CHAID method employs either chi2 or F statistics to identify sexual activity group characteristics based on relationships between risk/protective factors and self-reported sexual behavior. Five factors were identified as predictors of youth sexual behavior. In the primary abstinent and secondary abstinent groups, three protective factors (no intentions to have sex in the next six months, age, and gender) and two risk factors (intentions to have sex before marriage and beliefs about peers having sexual intercourse) were identified. In the sexually active group, three risk factors (intentions to have sex in the next six months, intentions to have sex before marriage, and beliefs about peers having sexual intercourse) were identified.
Further analysis revealed that the model correctly predicted 75% of the cases correctly with a risk estimate of 0.25. Overall, the Ecological Risk/Protective Theory was viable in explaining variables related to sexual behavior among African-American adolescents. Considering these risk/protective predictors identified in the study, meaningful interventions can be designed to reduce the risk of HIV infection among African-American adolescents.
Director: Peggy O'Hara Murdock.