Depressive Symptoms as a Longitudinal Predictor of Sexual Risk Behaviors Among African-American Adolescents

Jacklyn D. Foley, Peter A. Vanable, Michael P. Carey, Daniel Romer, Larry K. Brown, Ralph J. DiClemente, Robert F. Valois

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Understanding individual level factors associated with sexual risk behaviors among African-American adolescents remains an important public health priority. The current secondary data analysis examined the longitudinal association between a baseline assessment of depressive symptoms and sexual risk behaviors reported 6 months later; the purpose was to determine whether the association of depressive symptoms to risky sex varies as a function of gender. A secondary aim was to examine self-efficacy for sex refusal and condom use assessed at a 3-month follow-up as mediators of the depressive symptoms-sexual risk relationship.

METHODS: The sample consisted of 782 sexually active African-American adolescents ( M age = 15.3 years, SD = 1.08; 54% female) recruited to participate in a sexual health intervention trial. Data analyses focused on vaginal sex, and outcomes included: (a) sexual activity with 2 or more partners in the previous 3 months; (b) the relative frequency of condom use in the previous 3 months; (c) noncondom use at last occasion of sex; and (d) positive sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening.

RESULTS: Depressive symptoms predicted sex with 2 more partners for female participants, but no other risk markers for the sample as a whole. However, there was a significant indirect effect of depressive symptoms on condomless sex via decreased condom use self-efficacy for both male and female adolescents.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings have important implications for HIV/STI prevention, in which behavioral interventions may benefit from modules that include a focus on the influence of mood on self-efficacy for safer sex practices. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1009
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2019


  • African-American adolescents
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Self-efficacy
  • Sexual risk
  • African Americans/psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking
  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Sexual Behavior/psychology
  • Depression/psychology
  • Longitudinal Studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Applied Psychology


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