Predictors of Sexual Abstinence: A Prospective Study of College Women in the United States
Abstract: Purpose: Using the theory of reasoned action (TRA), this research examined predictors of sexual intercourse among first-and second-year college women. Methods: Participants completed a confidential self-administered questionnaire on their attitude, subjective norm, and intention regarding sexual intercourse and their behavioral beliefs about the consequences of abstinence and sexual intercourse. Results: At baseline, 58 (34%) of the 172 participants (mean age = 18.2; SD = 0.56) reported ever having sexual intercourse, and 41 (24%) reported having sexual intercourse within the last three months. Proportional-odds analysis on baseline data revealed that attitude and subjective norm were associated with a greater intention to have intercourse, as was relationship status (i.e. being in a relationship), a variable external to the TRA. Three-month follow-up questionnaires were completed by 165 (96%) of the participants. Logistic regression indicated that baseline intention and relationship status predicted self-reported sexual intercourse three months later. Examination of the relation of behavioral beliefs to attitude revealed that beliefs about the positive consequences of abstinence were associated with a negative attitude toward intercourse, whereas beliefs about the negative consequences of intercourse were unrelated to attitude toward intercourse. Being in a relationship and alcohol use were also related to positive attitude toward intercourse. Conclusions: These results suggest that, for college women, the TRA is a useful model of sexual behavior and that abstinence interventions may be a viable risk-reduction approach if the abstinence message is framed to emphasize the positive consequences of abstinence rather than the negative consequences of sexual intercourse.
Spears, Hazel, John B. Jemmott III, and G. Anita Heeren. "Predictors of Sexual Abstinence: A Prospective Study of College Women in the United States." Cogent Psychology 4.1 (2017): 1304605.