A Prospective Study of Sensation Seeking and Alcohol Use as Predictors of Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Men and Women Receiving Sexually Transmitted Infection Clinic Services

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Sensation seeking, the propensity to seek optimal stimulation and engage in risk behaviors, correlates with alcohol expectancies, which are related to alcohol use in sexual situations, potentially increasing risks for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In the current prospective study of 313 male and 140 female STI clinic patients, path analyses showed that sensation seeking predicted unprotected intercourse 6 months later. Sensation seeking also predicted alcohol outcome expectancies, which predicted alcohol use in sexual contexts 6 months later, which in turn predicted unprotected sex. Tests for mediation showed that alcohol expectancies accounted for the association between sensation seeking and alcohol use in sexual contexts. These findings replicate previous research, with the prospective design confirming directional hypotheses and supporting causal conclusions.

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