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Open Access Study protocol

Increasing young adults’ condom use intentions and behaviour through changing chlamydia risk and coping appraisals: study protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial of efficacy

Katie V Newby1*, David P French2, Katherine E Brown1 and Donna M Lecky3

Author Affiliations

1 Applied Research Centre in Heath and Lifestyle Interventions (ARC-HLI), Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5FB, UK

2 School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK

3 Public Health England Agency Primary Care Unit, Microbiology Department, Gloucester Royal Hospital, Great Western Road, Gloucester GL1 3NN, UK

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:528  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-528

Published: 30 May 2013

Abstract

Background

Chlamydia is the most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted infection (STI) in England and has serious public health consequences. Young people carry a disproportionate burden of infection. A number of social cognition models identify risk appraisal as a primary motivator of behaviour suggesting that changing risk appraisals for STIs may be an effective strategy in motivating protective behaviour. Meta-analytic evidence indicates that the relationship between risk appraisal and health behaviour is small, but studies examining this relationship have been criticised for their many conceptual and methodological weaknesses. The effect of risk appraisal on health behaviour may therefore be of larger size. The proposed study aims to examine the efficacy of an intervention to increase condom use intentions and behaviour amongst young people through changing chlamydia risk and coping appraisals. Coping appraisal is targeted to avoid the intervention being counterproductive amongst recipients who do not feel able to perform the behaviour required to reduce the threat. An experimental design with follow-up, a conditional measure of risk appraisal, and analysis which controls for past behaviour, enable the relationship between risk appraisal and protective behaviour to be accurately assessed.

Methods/Design

The proposed study is a two-arm cluster randomised controlled trial using a waiting-list control design to test the efficacy of the intervention compared to a control group. Participants will be school pupils aged 13–16 years old recruited from approximately ten secondary schools. Schools will be randomised into each arm. Participants will receive their usual teaching on STIs but those in the intervention condition will additionally receive a single-session sex education lesson on chlamydia. Measures will be taken at baseline, post-intervention and at follow-up three months later. The primary outcome measure is intention to use condoms with casual sexual partners.

Discussion

As far as the authors are aware, this is the first controlled trial testing the efficacy of an intervention to increase condom use intentions and behaviour through changing chlamydia risk appraisals. It is one of few experimental studies to accurately test the relationship between risk appraisal and precautionary sexual behaviour using a conditional measure of risk appraisal and controlling for past behaviour.

Keywords:
Randomized controlled trial; Chlamydia; Risk appraisal; Coping appraisal; Sexual behaviour; Condom use; Motivational hypothesis