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Predictors of heterosexual condom use: characteristics of the situation are more important than characteristics of the individual

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An event-specific analysis was conducted in order to assess the relative importance of a number of predictors of condom use. Surveys were completed by 271 heterosexual tertiary students: 60% used a condom in their most recent sexual encounter. Condom use was more closely related to state-like characteristics of the sexual encounter (e.g. having an agreement to use a condom, use of other forms of contraception) than trait-like characteristics of the individual (e.g. attitudes toward condom use, perceived risk of infection with HIV or other STDs). In addition, condom use was more strongly influenced by concerns about pregnancy prevention than concerns about disease prevention. The results of this study show that if we are to understand why heterosexual young adults do not consistently use condoms then we cannot only examine trait-like characteristics of the individual. We must also examine the context of specific sexual encounters.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 1999

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