Environmental influences on safer sex in young gay men: A situational presentation approach to measuring influences on sexual health

Michael W. Ross, Doug Henry, Anne Freeman, Margaret Caughy, Alvin G. Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Environmental influences on sexual behavior are difficult to examine given their temporal distance from the sexual act and the cost of long-term longitudinal studies. We examined environmental influences on risky sexual behavior in young gay men using the Situational Presentation (Sitpres) methodology, where situations in which relevant environmental variables are presented as computer vignettes with the variables randomly allocated, and participants rate the likelihood of their engaging in unsafe sexual behavior. A total of 100 gay men aged between 18 and 26 years of age completed 20 situational presentations with the outcome being the likelihood of engaging in unprotected anal intercourse. On regression analysis, 3 environmental variables significantly predicted safer sex: perceived gay/bisexual men's norms toward condom use; availability of HIV prevention messages; and what one's religion says about gay sex. Not significant were family, media, legal, and work/school attitudes to homosexuality. Demographic variables that were predictors included education, age, sexual orientation, and degree of being "out" about sexual orientation. These data suggest that environmental factors can be approximated using the Sitpres methodology, and that more proximal environmental variables have a stronger impact than distal ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-257
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of sexual behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, #CCR617974-01. The authors thank Richard Rohrsheim, Nick Lopez, Douglas Shehan, Bryan Elwood, SEI participants, Dallas area HIV community-based organizations, and the Dallas gay community for their contributions to and support of this study.


  • Environment
  • Gay men
  • Homosexuality
  • Safe sex


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