Monday, January 18, 2016

Relationship between Health Locus of Control and Risky Sexual Behaviors among Nigerian Adolescents

HIV/AIDS knowledge has been rated as the most important factor for HIV prevention. However, studies have also shown that knowledge alone does not always translate into reduced risky sexual behavior (RSB). Health locus of control (HLC) categorized as perceived control over health status (internal locus of control) or attribution of health status to chance or fate (external health locus of control) is a psychological construct that has been shown to impact health outcomes including RSB. This study thus investigated the relationship between HLC and RSB among Nigerian adolescents.

A cross-sectional survey design was employed among 361 adolescents from nine senior secondary schools selected through stratified random sampling from Jos, Plateau State Nigeria. Data were collected between August and October of 2008. Health Locus of Control Scale was used to categorize individuals into having either an internal or external HLC. RSB was assessed using the Brief HIV Screener (BHS). Descriptive statistics were computed and Mann-Whitney U test was used to determine differences in BHS scores by HLC categories. Odds ratios and adjusted odds ratios were calculated for individual BHS question responses based on HLC.

Participants were 169 males (46.8%) and 192 females (53.2%) with a mean age of 16.9. When grouped into HLC categories, 141 were internal and 220 were external. The mean score on the BHS showed statistically significant difference based on HLC (p=0.01). Odds for using a condom during sexual intercourse were higher for adolescents with an internal HLC while adolescents with an external HLC had significantly higher RSB scores. Prevention programs targeted at adolescents should also aim to internalize their HLC.

...Adolescents who attributed their health status to chance or fate (external HLC) had significantly higher RSB scores compared to those with an internal locus of control. Additionally, adolescents with an internal HLC were significantly more likely to report using a condom during sexual intercourse. Although RSB was related to gender and age with males engaging in more RSB and RSB increasing with age, gender and age were not significantly related to condom use. These findings support previous research examining HLC and RSB among adolescents in the US and Western Europe, particularly condom usage [-].

In this study, adolescents with an internal health locus of control had lower mean scores for RSB than those with an external locus of control. The implication of this is that when young people are made to believe they control what happens to them in terms of health, they will engage in less risky behavior. This can be explained by examining the relationship between locus of control and health. Internal locus of control has been found to be a meditating factor for taking actions to prevent health problems [,]. Wallston and Wallston assert that people with an internal locus of control have a sense of responsibility for their own health []. While those with an external locus of control believe that fate, luck, random events and chance determines their health status. Thus external loci of control people are less careful and cautious about their health while internals are cautious and will take deliberate steps to protect their health [,].

This hypothesis is supported by the finding in this study that adolescents with an internal locus of control had significantly higher odds of using a condom than those with an external locus of control. Condom use was not related to age or gender; it was only related to HLC...

Full article at:

1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA
2HealthySunrise Foundation, USA
3Centre for Clinical Care and Clinical Research, Nigeria
4Department of Psychology, University of Jos, Nigeria
5Department of Pediatrics, University of Nevada School of Medicine, USA
*Corresponding author: Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89154, USA, Tel: 702-895-2006; Fax: 702-895-5573;  ude.vlnu@rrahp.refinneJ

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