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Coping Appraisal and Parents' Intentions to Inform Their Children About Sexual Abuse: A Protection Motivation Theory Analysis

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This study examined the effects of the coping-appraisal components of Rogers's (1983) protection motivation theory (PMT) on parents' intentions to inform their children about sexual abuse. In a 5 × 2 factorial design, 165 mothers of elementary-school-age children read questionnaires containing one of five coping-appraisal manipulations: (a) response-efficacy information, (b) self-efficacy information, (c) combined information, (d) threat-only information, or (e) no information. In addition, low and high response costs wére varied. Dependent measures were parents' intentions to (a) obtain a booklet with information about child sexual abuse, (b) present the information, and (c) educate children about sexual abuse. As hypothesized, main effects were found for coping appraisal and response cost. Response cost and self-efficacy differentially affected parents' intentions; self-efficacy was the more potent variable in persuading parents. High response cost significantly decreased intentions to obtain the booklet and present the information. Finally, a significant coping-appraisal × response-cost interaction revealed that minimizing response cost increased intentions to adopt the coping response through the use of a precautionary decision-making strategy.