249637 Religiosity and sexual risk behaviors in African American adolescent females

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tracie Graham, MPH , Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Colleen Crittenden Murray, DrPH, MPH , Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, GA
Ralph J. DiClemente, PhD , Rollins School of Public Health and Center for AIDS Research, Emory Univeristy, Atlanta, GA
Mary Ukuku, MPH , Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Tiffaney L. Renfro, MSW , Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Background: African American adolescent females are at increased risk for both unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Historically, the Black church has been at the forefront of change within the Black community. Today, the church may also prove instrumental in the fight to decrease high risk sexual behavior among adolescents.

Methods: From June 2005 to June 2007, African American adolescents (N = 701), ages 14-20, were recruited from reproductive health clinics to participate in a sexual risk-reduction intervention. The current analyses are based on data from the baseline assessment. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the sociodemographics, living arrangements, and participants' religious beliefs. Further analyses examined the differences between groups (high religiosity vs low religiosity as determined by a median split) on sociodemographic variables, and risky sexual behavior.

Results: Religiosity (operationalized as religious participation and importance) was assessed using a 5-item scale (a = .69). Fifty-five percent of participants had high religiosity scores. Participants reporting higher religiosity were less likely to have tried marijuana (p <.01), less likely to have had a positive STD test (p <.05), had higher refusal of unwanted sex self-efficacy scores(p <.01), and reported more frequent sexual health communication (p <.01).

Conclusions: These results suggest that there is a significant association between religiosity and decreased sexual risk behavior. These findings are promising in that the faith community may be an effective context to provide targeted health education messages and promote the prevention of HIV/STDs and unwanted pregnancies among adolescent females.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe the relationship between religiosity and sexual health behaviors.

Keywords: Faith Community, Sexual Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have received my MPH in Health Behavior. I have also worked with the faith community to provide HIV prevention services.
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.