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Health Educ Res. 1993 Jun;8(2):245-54.

In search of a psychology of safer-sex promotion; beyond beliefs and texts.

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Dundee, UK.


Belief and attitudinal change are important to the promotion of safer sexual behaviour. However, the individual decision-making psychology implicit in belief-change models provides only a partial picture of the determinants of sexual behaviour. A broader psychological understanding emphasizing the complex social skills involved in regulating sexual interaction is advocated. A discourse analysis critique of the viability of characterizing individuals' psychology on the basis of verbal responses is discussed and it is noted that psychological models linking such responses to underlying beliefs and cognitions must be based on measures which accurately predict health behaviour. It is concluded that an interactive model incorporating personal, interpersonal and situational constraints on sexual behaviour could be used to design effective programmes addressing barriers to HIV protection. Such interventions would promote communication and sexual negotiating skills and could be included in school curricula. This would have radical implications for sex education, shifting its theoretical basis from biology to social psychology and its methods from information-giving to participation and practice.

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