The Role of Alcohol Expectancies in Sexual Risk Behaviors among Adolescents and Young Adults in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

May 2017 - Behavioral Prevention

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Hurley, E.A., Brahmbhatt, H., Kayembe, P.K., et al. Journal of Adolescent Health (January 2017), 60(1): 79–86, doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.08.023.

The authors of this study examined the role of individual alcohol expectancies (belief that a specific result will ensue from alcohol use) in risk behaviors among youth in Democratic Republic of the Congo. Data came from a 2010 survey of 1,396 adolescents (ages 15–19) and young adults (ages 20–24) on alcohol and sexual behaviors. The study focused on expectancies that alcohol use would (1) lead to sex or positive sexual experiences, (2) diminish one's ability to resist unwanted sex, and (3) diminish one’s ability to use or negotiate use of condoms. Participants who drank were significantly more likely than nondrinkers to be sexually experienced and to have engaged in every type of sexual risk assessed, including unprotected sex and multiple sex partners (MSP). Moderate expectancies of alcohol leading to positive sexual experiences were significantly associated with MSP among adolescent boys, whereas high expectancies were significant among young adult men. Among adolescent girls who used alcohol, the likelihood of unprotected sex was elevated among those with expectancies of diminished ability to refuse unwanted sex or negotiate condom use. The authors endorsed incorporating the role of alcohol expectancies in sexual risk behaviors for youth, and tailoring programs to address different roles of expectancies in males and females.

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