Religion has emerged as an important element of culturally-targeted health promotion in African American communities due to the cultural, historical, and personal value of religion within many of these communities and the associations between risk behavior and religion. Despite potential stigmatization, religion has great importance among African Americans who use drugs. Religion and sexual behavior are both shaped by intrapersonal and interpersonal factors. Social Cognitive Theory can provide a theoretical framework to study the role of social-cognitive mediators in the relationship between religion and sexual risk.
Additionally, few studies have examined the possibility of a relationship between religion and sexual risk that is mediated by drug use. Despite the call for faith-based interventions to reduce sexual risk, little research has explored the specific mechanisms and potentially complex links between separate dimensions of religion and sexual risk behaviors through theoretical and drug use mediators. This research addressed this gap by using path analysis techniques to test theoretically- and empirically-supported direct and indirect pathways within an at-risk study population, African American cocaine users living in the rural South.
Results supported the importance of many SCT-based constructs in understanding sexual risk behavior. However, few religion-risk pathways were supported. Findings suggest that some aspects of religion may be less protective of mental health in populations that experience very high levels of distress. Additionally, dimensions of religion were not found to be universally associated with health-promoting benefits. Specific dimensions of religion must be further examined to determine their relationship with health behaviors and associated theoretical constructs so that future cultural adaptation using religion has the desired effect.
None of the hypothesized relationships between religion, drug use, and sexual behavior were supported by our analysis. For chronic drug users like many of the members of our study population, addiction and social norms among drug-using communities may outweigh any protective effects of various aspects of religion. Post hoc supplementary analysis identified total number of sex acts as an effect modifier to the relationship between frequency of cocaine use and unprotected sex even after controlling for age, gender, type of cocaine used, and frequency of trading sex.
|Advisor:||Stewart, Katharine E.|
|Commitee:||Cornell, Carol, Corwyn, Robert, Ounpraseuth, Songthip, Pulley, LeaVonne, Yeary, Karen K.|
|School:||University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences|
|Department:||Health Promotion and Prevention Research|
|School Location:||United States -- Arkansas|
|Source:||DAI-B 72/08, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||African American Studies, Public health|
|Keywords:||African Americans, Cocaine use, Hiv prevention, Religion, Rural south, Sexual risk, Social cognitive theory|
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