Date of Award

December 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Peter A. Van able

Second Advisor

Sarah E. Woolf-King


depressive symptoms, self-efficacy, sexual risk

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Research that clarifies individual level factors associated with sexual risk behavior among African American adolescents remains an important public health priority. The current study examined the longitudinal association of depressive symptoms to sexual risk behaviors, and determined whether the association of depressive symptoms to risky sex varies as a function of gender in a sample of African American adolescents. A secondary aim was to examine whether self-efficacy for sex refusal and condom use mediate the depression-sexual risk relationship. Data analyses focused on baseline and three-month assessments of depressive symptoms and sexual behaviors assessed for the previous three-months, including: (a) engagement in vaginal sex; (b) having two or more sexual partners; (c) relative frequency of condom use; and (d) condom use at last sex. Analyses confirmed that depressive symptoms predict sex with two or more partners and both indices of inconsistent condom use. Further, gender moderates the association of depression and sex with two or more partners, such that depressive symptoms are a more powerful risk factor for females relative to males. Lastly, mediation analyses revealed that condom use self-efficacy significantly mediates the effects of depressive symptoms on inconsistent condom use. Depression is not a significant predictor of sexual activity status, nor did sex refusal self-efficacy mediate the association of depressive symptoms to engagement in vaginal sex or having two or more sexual partners. Nonetheless, current study findings have important implications for HIV/STI prevention, where behavioral interventions may benefit from modules that include a focus on the influence of mood on sexual behaviors and self-efficacy for safer sex practices.


Open Access