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Keywords:

  • behavioural intention;
  • sex;
  • sexual health;
  • sexual self-concept

pai h.-c., lee s. & yen w.-j. (2012) The effect of sexual self-concept on sexual health behavioural intentions: a test of moderating mechanisms in early adolescent girls. Journal of Advanced Nursing68(1), 47–55.

Abstract

Aim.  The purpose of this study was to examine whether normative beliefs would act as a moderator of the main relationship between sexual self-concept and sexual heath behavioural intentions.

Background.  Sexual self-concept has been defined as an individual’s evaluation of his or her own sexual feelings and actions. Research has shown that sexually related behaviours are associated with sexual self-concept and perceived parental/peer approval of sexual behaviour.

Methods.  We conducted cross-sectional research, using face-to-face interviews, to assess sexual self-concept, normative beliefs and sexual health behavioural intention. This study was conducted with 534 adolescent female participants, aged 12–15 years, in Taiwan. Data was collected between September and December 2009. We conducted structural equation modelling to examine the proposed conceptual model.

Findings.  We found that individuals with a high score on sexual self-concept (i.e. who had stronger erotic feelings) were less likely to believe that they would behave in ways that would protect their sexual health (i.e. low behavioural intention, β = −0·44, t = −8·43, < 0·001). The hypothesized moderating role of normative beliefs was also supported. Those with a greater tendency to believe that their parents/peers approved of sex (i.e. normative beliefs) were more likely to have a positive sexual self-concept (β = 0·57, < 0·001), and were less likely to protect their sexual health (β = −0·19, < 0·01). The findings showed that, together, normative beliefs and sexual self-concept accounted for 24·9% of the variance in girls’ sexual health behavioural intentions.

Conclusions.  We recommend that interventions that target sexual health behavioural intentions for this population would be more effective if such interventions targeted normative beliefs and helped adolescent females to clarify their sexual self-concept.