'What, me worry?': Parents' reasons for worry and nonworry about adolescent risk for sexually transmitted infections (STI)

Lynne A. Sturm, Rose M. Mays, Beth Juliar, Rita M. Bair, Susan Perkins, Gregory D. Zimet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Little is known about the bases of parental worry about adolescents' risk for acquiring a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Parents (N = 247) of adolescents 12-17 years endorsed reasons that explained their worry or nonworry. Parents' past experience of an STI, perception of the child's sexual activity, and racial self-identification were predictors of worry. Cluster analyses identified five groups of worriers and four groups of nonworriers. Worriers tended to select reasons reflecting an external parental locus of control or child-specific reasons. Nonworriers endorsed reasons consistent with internal parental locus of control. Findings suggest that preventive health communication should be tailored to parents' perceptions of risk and protective factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1060-1071
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Health Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008



  • Adolescents
  • Attitudes
  • Parents
  • Risk perception
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STI)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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