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The Parent-Teen Sexual Risk Communication Scale (PTSRC-III): Instrument Development and Psychometrics

Hutchinson, M. Katherine


Background: Adolescents are a group at high risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Several parenting processes, including parental monitoring, support, role modeling, and sexual communication, have been shown to be significant influences of adolescents' sexual attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Parent-child sexual risk communication, in particular, has been associated significantly with adolescents' attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to risk of and prevention of STIs and HIV.

Objective: The aim of this study was to report on the development of the Parent-Teen Sexual Risk Communication Scale (PTSRC-III), an eight-item self-report instrument for measuring the amount of communication about sexual risk and sexual risk reduction occurring between parents and their adolescent children, as reported by the adolescent.

Methods: Psychometrics of the PTSRC-III and the stability of the psychometric properties across two samples of late adolescents, college freshmen (N = 95) and female licensed drivers aged 19 to 21 years (N = 234), are reported.

Results: Internal reliability of the scale was excellent (α of >.93 and >.88 for sexual risk communication with mothers and fathers, respectively); test-retest reliability was acceptable (r = .88 and .79 over 2 months for PTSRC with mothers and fathers, respectively). Concurrent validity, predictive validity, and stability of psychometrics were also demonstrated. Factor analysis demonstrated a two-factor structure.

Discussion: The PTSRC-III provides a valid and reliable measure for assessing female adolescents' perceptions of parent-teen sexual risk communication, particularly with their mothers. Psychometrics were shown to be stable across the two samples. Implications for use and future development are discussed.

M. Katherine Hutchinson, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor and Associate Director, Center for Health Disparities Research, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia.

Accepted for publication July 17, 2006.

The author would like to thank Dr. Lorraine Tulman, a valued colleague and friend, for her insightful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

Corresponding author: M. Katherine Hutchinson, PhD, RN, Center for Health Disparities Research, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Room 231 2L, 420 Guardian Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6096 (e-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.