University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Article number528
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 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.


© 2013 Newby et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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