Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

A Validation Study of the AIDS Health Belief Scale

Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

A Validation Study of the AIDS Health Belief Scale

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: Recently, Zagumny and Brady (1998) developed a scale to measure the four components of the Health Belief Model as applied to HIV risk-behaviours. The current research examined the discriminant, convergent, and criterion-related validity of the AIDS Health Belief Scale (AHBS). Eighty-six men and 103 women participants were randomly assigned to either interview or self-administration conditions to complete the following measures: the AHBS, a Sexual Behaviour Questionnaire, the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding, and the Condom Attitude Scale-Adolescent version. The current findings resulted in mixed impressions of the psychometric properties and validity for the AHBS. In support of the AHBS, the measure was found to share significant variance with the Condom Attitude Scale-Adolescent version and was not contaminated by social desirability or affected by administration methodology (interview vs. self-administration). On the negative side, analyses indicated generally low levels of inter-item homogeneity on AHBS subscales and that the measure did not predict high-risk sexual behaviour in this college-student sample.

INTRODUCTION

HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are significant health issues among college students (Fisher & Misovich, 1990). Depending on factors such as sample characteristics, geographic region, and the year of the study, research indicates that from 6% to 43% of college students will contract at least one STD (Civic, 1999; Desiderata & Crawford, 1995; Ho, Bierman, Beardley, Chang & Burk, 1998; Lule & Gruer, 1991; MacDonald et al., 1990; Reisen & Poppen, 1995; Sheahan, Coons, Seabolt, Churchill, & Dale, 1992; Tyden et al., 1994). Approximately two-thirds of people who become infected with STDs are under the age of 25 (Institute of Medicine, 1997) and 50% of people newly diagnosed with HIV are under 25 years old (CDC, 1997). Despite high levels of knowledge concerning HIV-risk factors and prevention behaviours, college students continue to engage in high-risk behaviours (Butcher, Manning, & O'Neal, 1991; DiClemente, Forrest, & Mickler, 1990; Loos & Bowd, 1989; McCormack, 1997; McGuire, Shega, & Nicholls, 1992; Reinisch, Hill, Sanders, & Ziemba-Davis, 1995; Thompson, Kent, Thomas, & Vrungos, 1999). The relatively high risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease combined with the high "cost" of infection, make this a critical health concern and an important research issue in the college population. The availability of valid and reliable measures is essential for acquiring the information needed to better understand sexual behaviour and sexual decision making. Recently Zagumny and Brady (1998) developed and published the AIDS Health Belief Scale (AHBS) to measure the four components of the Health Belief Model (HBM) as they relate to AIDS. The HBM suggests that risk-taking behaviour is a function of the perceived severity of and susceptibility to an illness, perceived benefits of engaging in preventive measures, and perceived barriers to engaging in preventive behaviours. The 16-item AHBS has four subscales that correspond to the components of the HBM: Perceived Severity, Perceived Susceptibility, Perceived Benefits, Perceived Barriers, and a summary Total Score. To date, only one study has documented the psychometric properties of the AHBS. Based on results reported by Zagumny and Brady (1998) the AHBS has shown promise in terms of the internal consistency and factor structure, however, a need for additional research to help establish validity was acknowledged.

To date, examinations of the HBM have yielded inconsistent and, at times, contradictory findings. The literature reviewed demonstrates two types of inconsistencies. Some studies report a relationship between the HBM and unprotected sex (Dorr, Krueckeberg, Stratham, & Woods, 1999; Buunk, Bakker, Siero, van den Eijnden, & Yzer, 1998; Newcomb et al. …

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