Why communication is crucial: meta-analysis of the relationship between safer sexual communication and condom use

J Health Commun. 2006 Jun;11(4):365-90. doi: 10.1080/10810730600671862.


The purpose of this study was to quantitatively synthesize the growing literature on the relationship between safer sexual communication (SSC) among sexual partners and condom use, and to systematically examine a number of conceptual and methodological moderators of this relationship. Data from 53 articles published in 27 journals met criteria for the study. Fifty-five independent effect sizes coded from samples totaling N=18,529 were meta-analyzed. Results indicate that the mean sample-size weighted effect size of the SSC-condom use relation was r=.22, and a number of conceptual variables were found to moderate this relationship. Specifically, communication about condom use (r=.25) and sexual history (r=.23) had significantly (p<.05) larger effect sizes than communication about safer sex (r=.18). In addition, SSC measures operationalized differently had significantly (p<.05) different effect sizes. From largest to smallest, these were behavioral format (r=.29), intentional format (r=.18), and self-efficacy format (r=.13). Measures that tried to assess persuasion attempts as compared with informational exchanges were not found to have significantly different effect sizes (p>.05). Further, methodological moderators tended to be unrelated to effect size. Implications for the future study of safer sexual communication as well as the importance of emphasizing communication skills in HIV preventive interventions are discussed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Persuasive Communication*
  • Safe Sex / psychology*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control
  • Social Marketing*