Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Jacqueline McGrath


Unintended pregnancy (UP) is increasing among Latinos in the United States. Unintended pregnancy contributes to many negative consequences for infants, mothers and families. Concurrently, various factors affect Latino couples’ sexual relationship power, communication and decision making about family planning, including sexual relationship power, relationship commitment, dyadic adjustment, individual background, and cultural characteristics. Previous research has not focused on understanding the factors that affect Latino couples’ sexual relationship power, communication and sexual decision making from each partner’s perspective. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between sexual relationship power, communication, and sexual decision making from each partner’s perspective in relationship to family planning. In a cross-sectional design, recruited were a convenience sample of 40 Latino couples whose female partners in their second/third trimester from prenatal care clinics. Almost half of the participants were Mexican (males: 48%; females: 43%). The mean ages were 28 years (males, SD:5.67) and 26.5 years old (females, SD 4.81). Sample characteristics and partner responses were compared and contrasted. Machismo, perceived relationship commitment, relationship satisfaction and perceived decision making significantly contributed to the variance in sexual relationship power among women (F(8,26) = 6.776, p < 0.001). Increasing sexual relationship power through Latina empowerment and mutual decision making has the potential to build sustainable relationships. Relationship commitment, relationship satisfactions as well as cultural values (machismo and marianismo) were also the significant predictors for most of the study key variables. Decision making conversations among couples should optimally begin before the initiation of sexual activity and continue throughout the couples’ active sexual relationship. Couples communication facilitates making known each other’s will and thoughts and helps to promote healthy reproductive and sexual lives. Findings will contribute to developing targeted interventions to decrease UP while increasing quality of life for Latino families.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2012

Included in

Nursing Commons