University of Missouri - Saint Louis

The Graduate School


An oral examination in defense of the dissertation for the degree

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Emily A. Silverman
M.A. in Psychology, May 2009, University of Missouri-St. Louis
B.A. in History, May 2000, Oberlin College

Condom Use Self-Efficacy and Relationship Factors in Sexual Risk-Taking Among Young Urban African American Women



Young urban African American women are at disproportionately high risk for HIV/STIs, and current interventions focusing on individual factors (e.g., condom use self-efficacy) have not been sufficient to address this risk. Recent research suggests that an ecological approach that takes into account broader social and relationship factors may be more effective in meeting the needs of this population. The present study examined several relationship-level factors, including relationship power, avoidance motives for sex, and relationship commitment, and their potential interaction with the individual-level factor of condom use self-efficacy in predicting sexual risk-taking behaviors in a community sample of African American women aged 18-25 (N =132). The current study additionally considered the role of young women’s ambivalence around condom use, through descriptive analyses.

Out of the three relationship variables, only relationship power was found to interact with condom use self-efficacy to predict sexual risk. In addition, although not specifically hypothesized, relationship commitment predicted condom use over and above the variance accounted for by condom use self-efficacy, suggesting that relationship commitment may be particularly important in determining condom use for this population. Further, participants expressed ambivalence about condom use during their last protected and unprotected sexual encounters, suggesting that women do not always want to use condoms. Discussion of the results highlights the importance of considering relationship factors and ambivalence toward condom use in sexual risk-taking among young urban African American women. Limitations and implications for prevention programming are considered.


Date: June 25, 2013

Time: 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Place:339 Stadler Hall


Defense of Dissertation Committee


Zoё D. Peterson, Ph.D. (Advisor)

Brian R. Vandenberg, Ph.D.


Matthew J. Taylor, Ph.D.

Susan Kashubeck-West, Ph.D.