Date of Award

8-1996

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Major

Education

Major Professor

Bill C. Wallace

Committee Members

Robert Kirk, Jack Ellison, Ralph Jones, Robert Pursley

Abstract

The primary purpose of this investigation was to assess the current level of knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to HIV infection and AIDS among representative freshmen and senior football student-athletes from institutions in the Southeastern Conference of the NCAA. The secondary purpose was to assess student-athletes' sport-specific attitudes and knowledge source related to HIV infections and AIDS.

Based on the literature review and input from professionals in the field of sports medicine and AIDS education, a survey instrument was selected. The instrument was divided into six parts. The first part, Modified DiClemente AIDS Knowledge Survey, was a true-and-false scale (31 items), designed to examine knowledge and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS. The second part, AIDS-Related Attitudes Survey, was a Likert-type scale (21 items) designed to assess attitudes toward AIDS patients, dating and sexual practices, and AIDS prevention and treatment. The third part, AIDS-Related Behavior Survey, was a Likert-type scale (18 items) designed to assess behavior related to AIDS and its prevention, including dating and sexual practices and information seeking-behavior. The fourth part, Demographic Data, was designed to gather data regarding the respondents' characteristics on academic year, age, ethnicity, and marital status. The fifth part, Sport-Specific Attitude Information, was designed to gather additional data regarding attitudes and activities in the college athletics environment (5 items). Finally, the sixth part, Knowledge Source Information, was also designed to gather additional data pertaining to the sources of HIV/AIDS education received by the participants (6 items).

The population of interest consisted of 232 football student-athletes (138 freshmen and 93 seniors) enrolled at seven representative colleges and universities from the Southeastern Conference.

Three mailings and two rounds of facsimile correspondence yielded an institutional response rate of 58.3%. Among all institutions that responded, 232 student-athletes participated in the study (N=720). Frequency counts and percentages for character-valued variables for the overall population and subheadings, as well as cross-tabulations and measures for association utilizing Demographic Data (academic year, ethnicity, and university) were determined utilizing Chi-square analysis (SPSS, Version 7.0).

The great majority of the student-athletes had moderate to high levels of knowledge concerning HIV infection and AIDS, with >90% of the sample answering twenty-four out of the thirty-one total items correctly and a 90.7% average for all six subheadings. There were no significant differences between freshmen and seniors concerning level of knowledge. Ethnicity calculations for knowledge determined that white student-athletes were more likely to answer correctly about four out of six subheadings. University respondents for knowledge differed on responses to four items within three subheadings.

The attitude levels · of the student-athletes concerning HIV infection and AIDS were moderately positive overall, with a attitude percent of 80.2% for the four subheadings. Perceived AIDS-related attitudes among football student-athletes indicated one significant difference related to academic year concerning seniors concern about HIV infections. Many significant differences related to ethnicity were indicated within the quarantine/Isolation, magnitude of problem/concern, and sex/safer sex items. Significant differences differed from respondents at different universities were noted on the same above three subheadings.

The behavior levels of student-athletes concerning efforts to learn more and social and, work related relationships were average to poor overall, with >70% of the sample answering thirteen out of the eighteen total items favorable. Perceived AIDS-related behavior among football student-athletes indicated that seniors tended to acknowledge discussions about AIDS with their friends. Ethnicity differences among respondents were within the social and work-related relationship subheading. African-American athletes answered differently on limiting, changing, and abstaining from sexual activity and behavior if they had been exposed to the virus. Communication among partners by African American student-athletes differed from that by white student-athletes. Respondents from different universities also differed on social and work-related relationship items.

The majority of the student-athletes agreed with the following sport-specific attitudes: participation exclusion of HIV -positive student-athletes, mandatory HIV testing of student-athletes, disclosure of an HIV-positive student-athlete's status, and condom dispensing in the training room. No significant differences existed relative to academic year. Sport-specific attitudes of football student-athletes differed relative to ethnicity and university. White athletes were more likely to agree with screening and disclosing student-athletes' HIV status. African-American student-athletes supported condom dispensing in the training room.

Finally, the majority of student-athletes reported that they had been taught about HIV infection or AIDS in high school, had learned most about HIV/AIDS from mass-media sources, turn to outside community resources for support, and preferred to learn about HIV/AIDS from media sources. Only one-half of the student-athletes reported that they had been taught about mv infection or AIDS in college. Tests for associations between responses to the knowledge source items indicated differences relative to academic year and ethnicity in reference to high school and college AIDS education. Respondents from different universities differed on when they were taught about AIDS and from source they learned the most.

In view of the findings the following conclusions were drawn:

1. Most student-athletes have a moderate to high level of knowledge concerning HIV infection and AIDS.

2. Most student-athletes have a positive attitude towards concern and reported changes in sexual behavior to reduce contraction and transmission of HIV.

3. Most student-athletes, however, have average to poor behaviors toward making changes in social and work-related relationships in efforts to learn more about HIV infection and AIDS.

4. The majority of the student-athletes, with a lack of fact-based, non-judgmental information and a lack of information on legal aspects of HIV/AIDS favored participation exclusion of HIV-positive student-athletes, mandatory athletic department HIV testing, and disclosure of an HIV-positive student-athlete's status. The majority of student-athletes favored training room distribution of condoms.

5. The majority of student-athletes indicated a need for more HIV/AIDS education among student-athletes, especially by medical resources, since HIV/AIDS education was only moderately provided on the high school level and delinquent on the college level especially by medical resources. Mass-media type sources were the most readily used and were preferred by student-athletes to obtain information about HIV infection and AIDS.

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