Award Date

5-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

Marta Meana, Chair

Second Committee Member

Brad Donohue

Third Committee Member

Jeffrey Kern

Graduate Faculty Representative

Colleen Peterson

Number of Pages

200

Abstract

Little is known about mediators of treatment-seeking in dyspareunia. The general health belief literature as well as some existing qualitative data specific to dyspareunia, however, suggests a number of potentially significant barriers that may delay or prevent women from enlisting the aid of health care professionals. The aim of this study was to investigate influences on dyspareunia treatment-seeking behavior in young women, for whom the consequences of treatment avoidance are hypothesized to be the greatest. Given the lack of standardized health behavior measures relevant to intercourse pain, we constructed a measure assessing potential barriers to dyspareunia treatment-seeking. An exploratory principal component analysis yielded a 28-item, 3-component measure entitled the Sexual Health Treatment Barrier Scale - Dyspareunia Version (SHTBS-Dysp). The components (sub-scales) were interpreted and entitled as follows: Minimization, Shame, and Fear of Severity. We then investigated the psychometric properties of the SHTBS-Dysp, and explored convergent validity insofar as the endorsement of barriers correlated with cognitive and emotional styles associated with health behavior in the empirical literature and with self-report of treatment-seeking. Contrary to what has been found for most other health problems, treatment-seeking barriers for dyspareunia correlated positively with health anxiety, somatic amplification, pain catastrophization, and negative affect. Consistent with expectations, the measure correlated negatively with self-report of treatment seeking. Clinical and public health implications of the results are discussed.

Keywords

Anxiety; Barriers; Dyspareunia; Health attitudes; Health behavior; Pain catastrophizing; Somatization disorder; Treatment-seeking; Women

Disciplines

Female Urogenital Diseases and Pregnancy Complications | Health Psychology | Psychology | Public Health

Language

English


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