229113 High Risk Behavior, perceived peer behavioral norms, and self-reported attitudes of risk behavior in adolescents in the Caribbean

Monday, November 8, 2010

Peter Gleason, PhD(c) , Department of Psychology, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA
Kiti Freier Randall, PhD , Kids Fare, Pediatrics, Loma Linda University and Children's Hospital, Loma Linda, CA
Carlos Archbold, PhD , Miami Dade College, Miami, FL
Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH , Center for Prevention Research, Center for Media Impact Research, Andrews University, Careywood, ID
Duane C. McBride, PhD , Behavioral Science Department, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI
Introduction: Risk and protective factors were assessed in Caribbean youth. Study behaviors included substance use and sexual activity. Guided by the theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), (i.e. intentions to engage in high-risk behaviors mediate the relationship between attitudes, peer/adult subjective norms and high-risk behaviors), the influence of peer behavioral norms on high-risk behaviors and perceived risk was evaluated. Methods: With IRB and local authority approval, secondary students ages 14-25 (males=627; females=724) completed anonymous questionnaires (CDC-YRBS influenced). Secondary schools were randomly selected from comparable faith-based schools in rural and urban communities in several Caribbean countries. Results: Age of first sexual intercourse and perceived risk of contracting HIV was significantly correlated (the higher the perceived risk the older the age). HIV/AIDS education in school correlated with older age of first sexual intercourse. Believing that peers “thought it was ok to have sex” was correlated with younger age of first sexual intercourse. The perceived risk for contracting HIV/AIDS for peers was significantly higher than for self. Conclusions: The study provides some confirmatory data and insight into TRA applications. The correlation between peers attitudes toward sexually high-risk behaviors and own behaviors is in keeping with the theoretical model. Second, the correlation of HIV/AIDS education with delaying sexual intercourse provides evidence that school interventions are able to influence the norm reference group of adolescents, thereby impacting intent and ultimately behavior. The perception that peers with similar high-risk behaviors are more likely to contract HIV provides novel insight into the internal reasoning process of these adolescents.

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
1) Participants will be able to describe peer influences on HIV risk in youth. 2) Participants will be able to discuss the potential impact of education on peer influences of risk behavior.

Keywords: Youth, Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the principal investigator of this study and have intimate knowledge regarding this abstract. I have been doing research in this topic area for over 15 years.
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.