TitleExploring power and sexual decision making among young Latinos residing in rural communities.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsZukoski, AP, Harvey, SM, Oakley, LP, Branch, M
JournalWomen's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health
Date Published2011 Nov-Dec
KeywordsYoung Adult

BACKGROUND: Studies of relationship power and sexual decision making related to contraceptive and condom use among Latinos in the United States are limited. This exploratory study provides insight into relationship power and reproductive decision making among a sample of young Latinos (n = 58) who live in rural communities in the Northwest. METHODS: Using mixed methods approaches, we explored through in-depth interviews how Latino men and women define power, what makes them feel powerful, who has power, and who makes reproductive decisions within their sexual relationships. RESULTS: Descriptions of power and what makes Latinos feel powerful in their relationships reflected more widely accepted definitions and theories with important distinctions. Participants endorsed traditional domains of relationship power describing power as decision-making dominance and relationship control. However, smaller proportions of participants also described power as shared through joint decision making and equality. Themes related to the role of communication and relationship qualities also emerged. Based on quantitative measures, men and women reported that men have more relative power in relationships yet both reported high degrees of power within their own relationships. The majority of women and men believe that both members of a couple participated in decisions to use something to prevent pregnancy and to use condoms. CONCLUSION: Results underscore that young men and women in new settlement areas have traditional views of power while also identifying equality and interpersonal qualities to be important components of power dynamics within relationships. These findings have important implications for future research and the development of pregnancy and HIV/sexually transmitted infection prevention programs.