Applying the theory of planned behavior to reporting of forced sex by African-American college women

Forced sex is a public health issue affecting many college women. Despite physical and mental health consequences, and multiple prevention programs on college campuses, most sexual violence goes unreported (Fisher, Daigle, Cullen, & Turner, 2003). The purpose of this research was to determine the significant attitudes and beliefs that are associated with reporting of forced sexual experiences. Guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), the study used a predictive exploratory design to explore the association of intention to report forced sex with attitudes and beliefs (Ajzen, 1991). A convenience sample of 144 African-American women who were attending a private college in the south completed a survey. Women who expressed more favorable attitudes towards reporting, perceived reporting as being supported by important referents, and perceived more control over reporting, reported stronger intentions to report forced sex. The analysis supported the utility of TPB in predicting the intention to report forced sex by African-American college women. Theoretically significant and clinically relevant prevention strategies should incorporate important referents, address salient beliefs, and determine ways to increase perceived behavioral control.