Personal Strategies for HIV Prevention: The Development and Validation of a Strategy-Coding Instrument1


  • 1

    This research was supported by Grant RO1-NR03124 to Colleen DiIorio, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship to Catherine A. Sanderson. We wish to thank Johanna Soet and Torrance Stephens for their assistance in conducting this research, Jill Blettner and Paul Breloff for their assistance in conducting analyses, and particularly Fiona Vajk for her assistance in developing the coding system.

2 Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Catherine A. Sanderson, who is now at the Department of Psychology, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002-5000. e-mail:


This paper describes the development of a coding instrument to classify college students' strategies for preventing HIV infection, and examines the association of distinct strategies with social cognitive and behavioral measures related to safer sexual behavior. This instrument classifies each strategy into both a content domain (e.g., using condoms, remaining abstinent, limiting sexual partners), and 3 distinct dimensions: commitment, specificity, and effectiveness. We examine the reliability and validity of this instrument by showing the discriminative associations of each dimension with social cognitive and behavioral measures, and demonstrate the differential importance of distinct dimensions in predicting behavior in different content domains. Discussion focuses on the importance of tailoring HIV prevention messages to change strategy dimensions in order to maximize behavior change.