Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Trace S. Kershaw


This study examined the relationship between traditional masculine role norms (status, toughness, anti-femininity) and psychosocial mechanisms of sexual risk (sexual communication, sexual self-efficacy) among young, low-income, and minority parenting couples. Between 2007-2011, 296 pregnant adolescent females and their male partners were recruited from urban obstetrics clinics in Connecticut. Data regarding participants’ beliefs in traditional masculine role norms, frequency of general sex communication and sexual risk communication, and sexual self-efficacy were collected via computer-assisted self-interviews. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) models were used to test for actor effects (whether a person’s predictor influences the person’s own outcome) and partner effects (whether a partner’s predictor influences an actor’s outcomes). Results revealed that higher status norms for actors were significantly associated with more actor sexual self-efficacy, higher actor toughness norms were associated with less actor sexual self-efficacy, and higher anti-femininity norms for actors were significantly associated with less actor general sex communication, sexual risk communication, and sexual self-efficacy. No partner effects were found. These results indicate a need for redefining masculine role norms through family-centered approaches in pregnant or parenting adolescent couples to increase sexual communication and sexual self-efficacy. Further research is needed to understand how partner masculine role norms may influence actor psychosocial outcomes in the context of a relationship and on subsequent sexual risk behavior.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access