265578 Affective associations mediate cognitive influences on adolescent condom use

Monday, October 29, 2012

Erin M. Walsh, MS , Department of Community Health and Health Behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, SUNY, Buffalo, NY
Rekha Rajagopal, BA , Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE
Marc T. Kiviniemi, PhD , Department of Community Health and Health Behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, SUNY, Buffalo, NY
BACKGROUND: Despite the well-known efficacy of condoms as a means of avoiding unwanted pregnancy and STIs, fewer than half of college students consistently use condoms. Much of the work on condom use and health decision-making focuses on cognitive and social factors (e.g., attitudes, social norms). In other domains, affective associations, the feelings and emotions individuals associate with a behavioral choice, have been shown to both influence behavior and mediate the influence of cognitive beliefs on behavioral choices. The purpose of this study was to examine whether behavioral affective associations with condoms predicted college students' condom use, and whether affective associations mediated the influences of known cognitive beliefs. METHOD: Sexually active college students ages 18 to 28 (N=81) self-reported their level of sexual activity, use of condoms, risk perceptions, and their affective associations, cognitive beliefs, and perceived social norms about condom use. RESULTS: Controlling for age, gender, and relationship status, neither social norms nor risk perceptions were associated with condom use. However, more positive affective associations with and beliefs about condoms were associated with a greater odds of currently using them (affective associations: OR=1.99, p<0.01; cognitive beliefs: OR=1.74, p=0.05). Moreover, affective associations fully mediated the influence of cognitive beliefs on current condom use (Sobel's z=2.42, p=0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Affective associations may influence the condom use decisions of college students. Interventions that stress accurate risk perceptions and attribute risky behavior to deliberative and cognitive decision-making may benefit from explicitly addressing the influential role of affect in decision-making.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the relation between cognitive beliefs, such as perceived norms and risk perceptions, and affective factors in health decision-making. 2. Explain the role of affective associations in behavioral decision making surrounding condom use.

Keywords: Decision-Making, Condom Use

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the data analysis for this study and am involved in health decision-making research surrounding a number of behaviors, including risky sexual behavior, physical activity, and fruit and vegetable consumption.
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.

Back to: 3405.0: Sexual Risk Reduction