Disgust, Embarrassment and Sexual Health: An experimental study of behavioural delay and avoidance

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dc.contributor.advisor Consedine, N en
dc.contributor.author McCambridge, Sarah en
dc.date.accessioned 2012-12-21T01:44:15Z en
dc.date.issued 2012 en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2292/19805 en
dc.description Full text is available to authenticated members of The University of Auckland only. en
dc.description.abstract Delays and avoidance of sexual healthcare are common and are associated with a range of detrimental health, social, and economic consequences. Such issues are pressing in New Zealand, where rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are increasing. To this point, however, the understanding of why delay and avoidance occurs remains poorly developed, with most literatures concentrating near-exclusively on demographic and cognitive factors. Given emotions evolved to influence behaviour through their distinct motivational tendencies, emotions provide a credible line of supplementary investigation. Aversive emotions such as disgust and embarrassment likely motivate sexual healthcare avoidance for the simple reason that their elicitors are common in these contexts. However, prior studies of emotions and avoidance are limited in two key ways. First, studies have been near entirely crosssectional, precluding causal commentary. The current report assessed whether manipulated disgust and/or embarrassment cause delay and avoidance of specific disgust- and embarrassment-elicitors in a series of sexual healthcare vignettes. Second, most research has ignored the intrapersonal contexts in which emotions operate. The meaning of and subsequent responsiveness to emotions may differ within individuals, underlining a need to explore potential moderators. The current report tested whether prior behaviour and current health moderated disgust- and embarrassment- induced delays and avoidance. Ninety English-speaking participants aged 18-30 from the University of Auckland were recruited. Participants completed a web-based questionnaire assessing demographics, current health, past health behaviours, and personality. Participants were gender blockrandomised to disgust, embarrassment, or control conditions for a 30-minute laboratory session in which they completed sexual healthcare decision-making vignettes covering disgusting and embarrassing aspects of sexual healthcare. Manipulation checks indicated that while the disgust manipulation was successful, the embarrassment manipulation varied by gender; females reported greater embarrassment but males marginally less. Manipulations were, however, specifically elicited in the corresponding conditions. Overall, analyses demonstrated that disgust and embarrassment caused delay and avoidance of their elicitors, but only among specific groups. Embarrassment predicted greater delays in help-seeking involving embarrassment elicitors (i.e. sexual history assessment and physical examination), while disgust predicted greater delays in help-seeking involving a disgust elicitor (i.e. collecting genital discharge). As hypothesised, disgust and embarrassment also predicted greater preference for healthcare that minimised current affective state. As expected, however, while disgust and embarrassment caused delay and avoidance, their impact was moderated by either past behaviour or current health status. Embarrassment caused help-seeking delays among participants reporting multiple sexual partners, while disgust caused help-seeking delays among participants reporting poorer current health and decreased how deterring disgusting side-effects were among individuals reporting better health. Females without a recent sexual health screen were also more deterred by the disgusting aspects of sexual health screening, and were more strongly influenced by their current emotional state when choosing between disgust- and embarrassment- minimizing healthcare. Findings indicate that disgust and embarrassment cause sexual healthcare delays and avoidance among certain individuals. Thus, emotion frameworks may be usefully incorporated into clinical and public health efforts to reduce delays and avoidance. Future work should replicate and extend these findings, use them to identify populations at risk of delays and avoidance, and develop interventions that minimise the elicitation of disgust and embarrassment in sexual healthcare or provide better management of the response. en
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof Masters Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. en
dc.rights Restricted Item. Available to authenticated members of The University of Auckland. en
dc.rights.uri https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/docs/uoa-docs/rights.htm en
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/nz/ en
dc.title Disgust, Embarrassment and Sexual Health: An experimental study of behavioural delay and avoidance en
dc.type Thesis en
thesis.degree.grantor The University of Auckland en
thesis.degree.level Masters en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The Author en
pubs.elements-id 370446 en
pubs.record-created-at-source-date 2012-12-21 en


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