Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Dr. Jane M. Georges; Dr. Kathy Shadle James; Dr. Willa Doswell


African Americans, Ethnography, father-child reproductive health communication, fatherhood, nursing, sexual debut


African-American children have their sexual debut (first voluntary penile-vaginal penetration) earlier thus are at disproportionately greater risk for more sexual partners and sexually transmitted infections. Father-child reproductive health communication was found to influence the timing of sex in other children however, a dearth of studies in African-American fathers existed. In this qualitative study reproductive health communication was explored in tape-recorded interviews of 19 African-American fathers from the perspective of critical theory, with the use of critical ethnography as methodology. How the content and pattern of reproductive health communication influenced sexual debut, and how fathers' moral/ethical stances influenced reproductive health communication with their children, were the research questions. Most significant were findings that all but one father reported having these conversations, and most fathers believed these conversations could have influenced the timing of sex for their children. Fathers' espousing abstinence for both sons and daughters at least until the age of 18 were driven by fear of morbidity for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, and subsequent effects in children's lives. Mothers of children not living with fathers contributed to difficulties encountered in having reproductive health communication with children. While adding to the much needed body of knowledge on African American fathers' reproductive health communication with their children, interviews with these fathers illuminated the need for reproductive health education so that age-appropriate communication in this regard could occur.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons