Online Program

Religious upbringing, sexual education, and sexual decision-making among African American young women at a historically black college

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Anne Marie Schipani, MPH candidate, Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, GA
Sinead Younge, PhD, Department of Psychology, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA
Jessica M. Sales, PhD, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Kimberly Arriola, PhD, MPH, Department of Behavioral Sciences & Health Education, RSPH of Emory University, Atlanta, GA
This qualitative study explored how sexual education and religious upbringing impact current sexual decision-making among college students. Participants included (N=19) African American females attending a historically Black college in the Southeastern United States. Because African American young women aged 18 to 24 have increased rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and unintended pregnancy, it is important to understand the contextual factors that contribute to Black college women's sexual decision-making. The social ecological model was used as a theoretical framework to explore the determinants of sexual decision-making, particularly focusing on family and religion. Unlike past research on religion and sexual health, this study sought to explore religious upbringing as an emergent construct in sexual decision-making, defined as familial values, religious or spiritual rituals from childhood to the present, and religious or spiritual importance from childhood to the present. Based on semi structured in-depth interviews with participants about current sexual health attitudes and behaviors, analysis revealed that sexual education messages learned from family and peers during youth impact current sexual decisions more than sexual education messages learned in school. Findings also demonstrate that both religious upbringing and present religion or spirituality impact current sexual decision-making. However, results also indicate that a disconnect exists between religious upbringing and current religion or spirituality. Overall, findings may potentially inform future multi-level sexual risk prevention interventions on college campuses to incorporate various sources of influence on sexual decisions.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain levels of the social ecological model impact college students’ current sexual decision-making. Design an on-campus sexual health program that incorporates religious upbringing for African American college students. Analyze why religious upbringing may differ from current religion or spirituality in college students.

Keyword(s): African American, Adolescent Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Master of Public Health candidate studying behavioral sciences and health education, and I have worked as a graduate research assistant on a federally funded grant focusing on sexual health beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. My scientific interest has been the development of faith-based HIV prevention interventions for emerging adults.
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.

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