Objective: Of particular public health concern to the Jamaican authorities is the consistently highnumbers of new HIV infections among adolescents and young adults. The thrust in HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns has largely been toward an increase in knowledge and attitudes as opposed to personality variables. However, it is widely believed that persons with high interpersonal skills may be less likely to engage in sex risk behaviours. This study investigated interpersonal competence as a personality characteristic associated with sexual risk-taking among Jamaican adolescents.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 500 adolescents, ages 13−18 years (250 males and 250 females) from nine randomly selected secondary government schools within Kingston and St Andrew was used. The sample ensured maximum variation in age groups. The BarOn EQ-i:YV(S) was utilized to provide a measure of interpersonal competence and the Sex Risk Scale from the Adolescent Risk Inventory acted as a measure of sex risk behaviours. The Spearman’s rho correlational statistic was used to investigate the hypothesis.
Results: Of the students surveyed, 58.6% reported that they were sexually active; 31.8% reported having multiple sexual partners and 28.2% reporting inconsistent condom use. A significant, inverse relationship was observed between interpersonal competence and sex risk behaviours (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: This research provided evidence that adolescents with high interpersonal skills are less likely to participate in risky sexual behaviours. Therefore, interventions aimed at reducing risky adolescent sexual practices might benefit from the inclusion of strategies to build interpersonal skills.