Communication Types and Sexual Protective Practices of College Women


Address correspondence to Brenda K. Cobb, Ph.D., R.N., University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Nursing, Birmingham. AL 35294-1210.


Abstract Sexually transmitted disease, such as the fatal HIV disease, continues to threaten the health of young women. Adolescents have typically been inconsistent users of effective strategies that prevent the spread of disease during sexual activity. Communication practices related to disease-related sexual protection have received little attention as a variable separate from sexual protection. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship among different types of interpersonal communication of young women and their new sexual partners and their implementation of disease-related sexual protection. A sample of 163 young women who had experienced sexual intercourse completed the Safe Sex Behavior Questionnaire. Interpersonal communication was explored using the general-information-seeking (getting to know a partner), sexual self-disclosure, and specific-disease risk-information-seeking scales. These scales were combined; factor analysis revealed three subscales closely related to the original scales. Findings suggest that young women who seek specific information about their new sexual partner's disease risk status are more likely to implement sexual protective practices. These findings provide guidance to nurses who work with adolescent women in advising on aspects of interpersonal relationships that need to be enhanced to protect one's health status.