172653 Impact of peer education on university students' sexual health knowledge and behaviors

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ann Elizabeth Montgomery, MPA, MSSW , Department of Health Behavior, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmigham, AL
Natalie G. De La Cruz, MPH, CHES , Health Behavior, University of Alabama Birmingham, Hoover, AL
Renicha McCree-Hale, MA , Department of Health Behavior, UAB School of Public Health, Birmingham, AL
Introduction: Young adults are at high risk for HIV/STI infection. Peer education has demonstrated effectiveness in improving sexual health knowledge and attitudes among university populations.

Purpose: To describe sexual health knowledge and behaviors of university students and the effectiveness of the Sexual Health Awareness through Peer Education (SHAPE) program.

Methods: Evaluation of the SHAPE program used a one-group pre-post-test design with a nonequivalent dependent variable. A baseline survey was administered immediately prior to HIV Awareness and Sexual Decision-Making Workshops during Fall 2007. After one month, participants completed a post-test.

Results: Despite high levels of knowledge and condom-use self-efficacy at baseline, most respondents reported engaging in some risky behavior. Both STI and HIV knowledge increased from baseline to follow-up. At follow-up the percentage of participants reporting that they had a personal plan to protect themselves against HIV/STIs increased significantly (p=0.007), as did the percentage reporting they knew where they could go to be tested for STIs (p=0.046) and HIV (p=0.002). There were no significant changes noted in consistency of condom use in the past month. Neither of the nonequivalent dependent variables changed significantly between baseline and follow-up.

Conclusions: Data collected through the present study suggest that even a brief exposure to a campus-based peer education program can be effective in increasing knowledge and in improving sexual health awareness and some attitudes among participating students.

Learning Objectives:
1. Understand why adolescents are at increased risk for infection with HIV and other STIs. 2. Describe the level of sexual health knowledge among a university population. 3. Discuss the effectiveness of campus-based peer education programs in increasing knowledge, decreasing sexual risk behaviors, and improving self-efficacy.

Keywords: Peer Education, Sexual Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was part of the team that developed the study methodology and collected and analyzed the data.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.