Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Kevin W. Allison


This study utilized a is a two-phase mixed methods design to examine partner-based expectations and perceptions of factors that affecting condom use among African American women recruited at a sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinic. Phase One utilized qualitative methods to analyze interviews from 25 unmarried, African American women between ages 18--26. Interviews explored the following two research questions: (1) How do young adult African American women conceptualize relationships as illustrated by their expectations of their partner and their expectations of themselves in the relationship? (2) What messages do women recall receiving from their family members about sexual opportunities, intercourse, consequences of sex, love, marriage and premarital sex? Data analysis revealed partner-based expectations that included expectations of trust/honesty, respect from partners, stability of partner's behaviors, interest in women's well-being, partner's ability to be self-reliant, and specific behavioral expectations (e.g., communication, family commitment). Some expectations linked to women's ideas about their sexual health. Women's self-expectations included being emotionally supportive, committed, honest, domestic and independent. Familial messages focused on what to expect from partners, who women should be in relationships, messages stressing respect for and from others, messages emphasizing how to prevent negative outcomes of sex and messages warning about consequences of sexual engagement. Findings related to women's HIV/AIDS prevention behavior included responsibility for their own sexual safety, commitment to assessing partner's history, incorrect education regarding sexual safety, and relationship factors affecting condom use. Findings from interviews were used to develop items for the Relationship Expectation Measure (REM), which tested and used as a mediator for Phase Two Hypotheses. Phase Two of the research tested for the association between family process factors, communication and closeness, relationship expectations and sexual health outcomes. Hierchical Linear regression models were used to test associated hypotheses. Findings did not support the association between family process variables, relationship expectations and sexual health outcomes. Findings from this study illuminate the need for further understanding the degree to which different aspects of expectations and familial processes affect women's history of sexual behavior and partner-based expectations. Inconsistencies between what women expect and accept from partners are also discussed.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Psychology Commons