REFERENCE: Hovell, M.F., Blumberg, E. J., Jones-Rodriguez, G., Kelley, N., Sipan, C. L., (1999). Enhancing HIV prevention skills of separated/divorced women. Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Behavioral Medicine, San Diego, CA, March 3-6, 1999. (Abstract published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 1999; 21:S 148).

This study assessed the effectiveness of social skills training (SST) versus didactic training (DT) in increasing the level of condom negotiation and other HIV prevention assertive skills in recently separated/divorced women. The sample consisted of 107 Latina and Anglo women, ages 18 to 49 who experienced separation or divorce within the last 6 to 18 months. Videotaped role-play measures at baseline, post-test and 4-month follow-up included four skill domains: verbal content, nonverbal behavior, anxiety and assertiveness. Interviews at baseline and follow-up measured frequency and change in HIV risk and protective practices, demographics and other social factors.

Baseline data indicated significant levels of sexual HIV risk behaviors. MANOVA results from pre- to post test for 69 subjects, who completed all measures, showed a significant increase in skill level of (SST) subjects (n=34) compared with (DT) subjects (n=35) for assertiveness (p<.01), and content (p<.01) in condom use negotiation in a new relationship; assertiveness (p<.001), content (p<.01), and nonverbal (p<.05) in condom use negotiation in an existing relationship without prior condom use; and nonverbal (p<.05) in talking to a friend about his/her risk practices. Anxiety significantly decreased (p<.01) in (SST) subjects compared with (DT) subjects for all three skills. MANOVA results from post- to follow-up indicated that almost all skill increases achieved were not sustained at follow-up.

Findings from this study revealed that social skills training increased HIV prevention assertive skills in women recently separated/divorced. However, follow-up outcomes showed that increases in skill level were not maintained over time. More importantly, no significant decreases in risk behavior were observed for number of vaginal and anal sex partners, frequency of sex, and condom use with all partners. These follow-up results suggest that training needs to be continued and/or other support systems are required to maintain training effects and reduce HIV risk behaviors.


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