Sexually Transmitted Infection Knowledge among Older Adults: Psychometrics and Test-Retest Reliability

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Apr 3;17(7):2462. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17072462.


Sexually transmitted infections (STI) among older adults have dramatically increased in recent years, especially among those who are widowed and divorced. The purposes of this study were to: (1) identify STI-related knowledge among older adults; (2) report the psychometric properties of a tool commonly used to assess STI-related knowledge among younger populations using data from adults 65 years and older; and (3) determine test-retest reliability of the tool. Data were analyzed from 43 adults, aged 65-94 years, using the 27-item Sexually Transmitted Disease Knowledge Questionnaire (STD-KQ). Participants completed identical instruments on two separate days with approximately two weeks between. After responses were coded for correctness, composite scores were created. Cronbach's reliability coefficients were calculated to determine response consistency, and Pearson's r coefficients were used to assess test-retest reliability. Of 27 possible correct answers, participants reported an average of 11.47 (±6.88) correct responses on Day 1 and 11.67 (±7.33) correct responses on Day 2. Cronbach's alpha coefficients for the 27-item composite scale were high for both days (0.905 and 0.917, respectively), which indicates strong response consistency. Pearson's r coefficients were high between responses for the 27-item composite scale on Days 1 and 2 (r = 0.882, P < 0.01), which indicates strong test-retest reliability. Pearson's r coefficients were high between responses for all but three of the 27 items when assessed separately. Findings suggest the utility of the STD-KQ to assess STI knowledge among older adults. However, the consistently low knowledge scores highlight the need for educational interventions among this population.

Keywords: aging; knowledge; measurement; scale validation; sexual health; sexual risk behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires