176796 Relationship commitment and condom use in young adults: Initial results from the Project on Partner Dynamics

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Christopher R. Agnew, PhD , Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
S. Marie Harvey, MPH, DrPH , Department of Public Health, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Christy A. Sherman, PhD , Oregon Research Institute, Eugene, OR
Jocelyn Warren, MPH , Department of Public Health, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Past research has consistently shown that condom use is less likely within ongoing relationships than within casual partnerships (e.g., Anderson, 2003; Misovich et al., 1997). Rather than being more careful in sexual relations with a more well-known partner, the available evidence suggests that the opposite is the case: one's physical defenses appear to drop. However, the theoretical underpinnings regarding why this is so remain unarticulated and largely unexplored. We propose that one particular psychological variable, relationship commitment, helps to account for differential rates of condom use in different kinds of partnerships. More specifically, we hypothesized that greater levels of commitment (defined as intending to remain in a relationship, having a long-term perspective, and feeling psychological attachment to a partner) lead to lower rates of condom use. We tested our hypothesis with data derived from in-person interviews with 204 young men and women (aged 18-30, primarily Latino and African American) from the Los Angeles area who met criteria for being at risk for HIV/STIs. Above and beyond a number of important control variables (including gender, race, cohabitation status, number of lifetime sexual partners, ever having a sexually transmitted disease, perceived risk of pregnancy, and current use of oral contraception by self or partner), relationship commitment was found to be a negative, significant predictor of condom use over the preceding 4 months. Our results will be discussed in the context of an overall model of commitment processes, with implications for a greater understanding of not only condom use but also relationship power.

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to: 1. Describe the influence of relationship commitment on condom use in a sample of young at-risk adults. 2. Understand the role of commitment within a larger model of interpersonal relationships that highlights key antecedents and consequences of commitment. 3. Discuss the implications of the findings for improving reproductive health policies and sexual health of young adults at risk for HIV/STIs.

Keywords: Condom Use, Decision-Making

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: of my extensive research on this topic.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.