Supportive Friendships Moderate the Association Between Stressful Life Events and Sexual Risk Taking Among African American Adolescents

Sonya S. Brady, M. Margaret Dolcini, Gary W. Harper, Lance M. Pollack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: This study examined whether uncontrollable stressful life events were associated with sexual risk taking among adolescents across a 1-year period, and whether supportive friendships modified associations. Design: Participants were 159 sexually active African American adolescents (57% male; mean age [SD] = 17.0 [1.5] years at baseline). Participants were recruited for in-person interviews through random digit dialing in one inner-city neighborhood characterized by high rates of poverty and crime relative to the surrounding city. Main Outcome Measures: Dependent variables included substance use before sexual activity and inconsistent condom use. Results: Among adolescents who reported low levels of supportive friendships, uncontrollable stressors were associated with greater levels of sexual risk taking over time. In contrast, uncontrollable stressors were not associated with sexual risk taking among adolescents who reported high social support from friends; risk taking was typically moderate to high among these adolescents. Conclusion: Different processes may explain sexual risk taking among adolescents with varying levels of social support from friends. Adolescents with low support may be prone to engagement in health risk behavior as a stress response, while adolescents with high support may engage in risk behavior primarily due to peer socialization of risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-248
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Psychology
Volume28
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009

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Risk-Taking
African Americans
Social Support
Socialization
Condoms
Crime
Poverty
Sexual Behavior
Outcome Assessment (Health Care)
Interviews
Health

Keywords

  • African American
  • adolescence
  • sexual risk taking
  • social support
  • stressful life events

Cite this

Supportive Friendships Moderate the Association Between Stressful Life Events and Sexual Risk Taking Among African American Adolescents. / Brady, Sonya S.; Dolcini, M. Margaret; Harper, Gary W.; Pollack, Lance M.

In: Health Psychology, Vol. 28, No. 2, 01.03.2009, p. 238-248.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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