Another Look at Heterosocial Behaviors: One Side of the Early Intimate Sexual Behaviors Coin

Wednesday, 15 July 2009: 11:05 AM

Betty Braxter, PhD, RN, CNM
School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Willa M. Doswell, RN, PhD, FAAN
Health Promotion and Development, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, Pittsburgh, PA
Dianxu Ren, PhD
Health & Community Systems, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, Pittsburgh, PA

Learning Objective 1: Describe the heterosocial behaviors of middle school African Americn girls.

Learning Objective 2: Discuss the relationship between heterosocial behaviors and intimate sexual behaviors among middle school African American girls.

Purpose: The aims of this study with African American middle school girls using the Theory of Reasoned Action (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980) were to: 1) describe the heterosocial behaviors endorsed by the girls; 2) assess the level of intimate sexual behaviors girls engage; and 3) examine the relationship between heterosocial behaviors and intimate sexual behaviors.

Methods: A cross-sectional design was employed, and 157 young girls participated in this analysis of baseline data from a randomized clinical trial (5RO1HD039757-05).  The girls drawn from five middle schools located in Western Pennsylvania completed two surveys.   The Heterosocial Behavior Questionnaire (Westney, Jenkins, & Benjamin, 1983; modified by Doswell, 1999) assessed the social contexts in which heterosexual interactions occur and six heterosocial behaviors; Sexual Behavior Inventory ( Treboux & Busch-Rossnagel, 1995; modified by Doswell, Braxter, Taylor, &  Ren, 2008) documented  self-reported  intimate sexual behaviors.  Descriptive statistics as well as linear regression models were generated with heterosocial behaviors serving as the predictor variable.

Results: A majority of the girls had spent time with a group of boys and girls when no adults were around.  Hugging was the most prevalent heterosocial behavior; kissing was the most prevalent intimate sexual behavior.  Social contexts (p<.001) and heterosocial behaviors (p<.001) were both significant predictors. 

Conclusion: Interventions designed to delay/prevent engagement in early intimate sexual behaviors among early teen African American girls should assess heterosocial behaviors.