Perceived control and communication about sex: A study of South African families

Bradley Goodnight, Christina Salama, Elizabeth C. Grim, Elizabeth R. Anthony, Lisa Armistead, Sarah L. Cook, Donald Skinner, Yoesrie Toefy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Caregiver-youth communication about sex protects youth against HIV/AIDS, and caregivers who believe that sex knowledge is important are more likely to talk to their youth about sex. However, caregivers who experience barriers to communication about sex may not talk to their youth about sex even if the caregiver believes that sex education is important. The Theory of Planned Behaviour predicts that an actor has perceived control is necessary for behavioural change. This study therefore hypothesised that caregivers perceived control moderates the relationship between caregiver attitudes about youth sex knowledge and caregiver-youth communication about sex. Results from a sample of 99 female South African caregivers of adolescent (10-14 year old) youth supported our hypothesis, indicating that caregiver attitudes about providing youth with sex knowledge positively predict communication about sex only when caregivers have perceived control. This finding illustrates the importance of perceived control in predicting caregiver-youth communication, and therefore has implications for family-based interventions aimed at improving caregiver-youth communication about sex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalAfrican Journal of AIDS Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements — This study was funded by the Eunice K Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant 5R21HD058483). We acknowledge Katherine Colmer, Georgia State University; Erin Ashford, Gillian Sibiya, Namafu Jayiya and Annemie Stewart, Stellenbosch University; Ina Vermulen, Desiree Uys, Nolitha Lekoma, Gertrude Gwenzi, Patience Dolweni, Nosicelo (Nono) Venkile, Babalwa (Zinzi) Dabadeni and Nomonde Khulati, Cape Town Child Welfare; Cat Rieper, Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (RAPCAN); Fouzia Rykleft and Marjorie Feni, the Parent Centre; Ndileka Xameni, Anele Ghasana and Siyabonga Mgwabala, Siyaphambili Orphan Village; Khulani Chiliza ‘KC’, LoveLife; and Nomakhosi Magalakanqa, Mbulelo Mapele and Nokwanda Matanda; and the families from Langa who participated in the study for their contributions to this project.


  • Caregivers
  • Family
  • HIV
  • Parent-child communication
  • Parental attitudes
  • Perceived control


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