Moving beyond safe sex to women-controlled safe sex: A concept analysis

Kamila A. Alexander, Christopher L. Coleman, Janet A. Deatrick, Loretta S. Jemmott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Aim. This paper is a report of a conceptual analysis of women-controlled safe sex. Background. Women bear disproportionate burdens from sexually related health compromising outcomes. Imbalanced societal gender and power positions contribute to high morbidities. The expression, women-controlled safe sex, aims to empower women to gain control of their sexual lives. Few researchers focus on contextualized socio-cultural definitions of sexual safety among women. Data sources. The sample included scientific literature from Scopus, CINAHL, PubMed, PsychINFO and Sociological Abstracts. Papers were published 2000-2010. Review methods. Critical analyses of literature about women-controlled safe sex were performed in May 2011 using Rodgers' evolutionary concept analysis methods. The search focused on social and cultural influences on sexual practices aimed at increasing women's control over their sexual safety. Results. The analysis uncovered five attributes of women-controlled safe sex: technology; access to choices; women at-risk; 'condom migration' panic; and communication. Three antecedents included: male partner influence; body awareness; and self-efficacy. Consequences were categorized as positive or negative. Nine surrogate terms included: empowerment; gender power; female-controlled sexual barrier method; microbicides; diaphragm; sexual negotiation and communication; female condom; women-initiated disease transmission prevention; and spermicides. Finally, a consensus definition was identified: a socio-culturally influenced multi-level process for initiating sexual safety by women deemed at-risk for sexually related dangers, usually sexually transmitted infections and/or HIV/AIDS. Conclusion. This concept analysis described current significance, uses, and applications of women-controlled safe sex in the scientific literature. The authors clarified its limited nature and conclude that additional conceptual refinement in nursing is necessary to influence women's health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1858-1869
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of advanced nursing
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Concept analysis
  • Gender equity
  • Sexuality
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Unintended pregnancy
  • Women-controlled safe sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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