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AIDS Behav. 2012 May;16(4):1075-83. doi: 10.1007/s10461-011-0003-2.

Development of the perceived risk of HIV scale.

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  • 1Center for Behavioral Research and Services, California State University, Long Beach, 90813, USA.


Past studies have used various methods to assess perceived risk of HIV infection; however, few have included multiple items covering different dimensions of risk perception or have examined the characteristics of individual items. This study describes the use of Item Response Theory (IRT) to develop a short measure of perceived risk of HIV infection scale (PRHS). An item pool was administered by trained interviewers to 771 participants. Participants also completed the risk behavior assessment (RBA) which includes items measuring risky sexual behaviors, and 652 participants completed HIV testing. The final measure consisted of 8 items, including items assessing likelihood estimates, intuitive judgments and salience of risk. Higher scores on the PRHS were positively associated with a greater number of sex partners, episodes of unprotected sex and having sex while high. Participants who tested positive for HIV reported higher perceived risk. The PRHS demonstrated good reliability and concurrent criterion-related validity. Compared to single item measures of risk perception, the PRHS is more robust by examining multiple dimensions of perceived risk. Possible uses of the measure and directions for future research are discussed.

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