Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Health

First Advisor's Name

Robert Malow

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Jessy Devieux

Third Advisor's Name

Elena Bastida

Fourth Advisor's Name

Luther Brewster


Adolescent, Health, Sexual Behavior, Parenting, Neighborhood, Attitudes, Florida

Date of Defense



The current study was a cross-sectional examination of data collected during an HIV risk reduction intervention in south Florida. The purpose of the study was to explore the relationships between neighborhood stress, parenting, attitudes, and adolescent sexual intentions and behavior. The Theory of Planned Behavior was used as a model to guide variable selection and propose an interaction pathway between predictors and outcomes.

Potential predictor variables measured for adolescents ages 13-18 (n=196) included communication about sex, parent-family connectedness, parental presence, parent-adolescent activity participation, attitudes about sex and condom use, neighborhood disorder, and exposure to violence. Outcomes were behavioral intentions and sexual behavior for the previous eight months. Neighborhood data was supplemented with ZIP Code level data from regional sources and included median household income, percentage of minority and Hispanic residents, and number of foreclosures. Statistical tests included t-tests, Pearson’s correlations, and hierarchical linear regressions.

Results showed that males and older adolescents reported less positive behavioral intentions than females and adolescents younger than 16. Intentions were associated with condom attitudes, sexual attitudes, and parental presence; unprotected sexual behavior was associated with parental presence. The best fit model for intentions included gender, sexual attitudes, condom attitudes, parental presence, and neighborhood disorder. The unsafe sexual behavior model included whether the participant lived with both natural parents in the previous year, and the percent of Hispanic residents in the neighborhood.

Study findings indicate that more research on adolescent sexual behavior is warranted, specifically examining the differentials between variables that affect intentions and those that affect behavior. A focus on gender and age differences during intervention development may allow for better targeting and more efficacious interventions. Adding peer and media influences to the framework of attitudes, parenting, and neighborhood may offer more insight into patterns of adolescent sexual behavior risk.





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