252652 Health seeking and risky sexual behaviors in university students: Discordance an opportunity for intervention

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wiley D. Jenkins, PhD, MPH , Family and Community Medicine, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, IL
Kristine Dzara, PhD , Department of Psychiatry, SIU School of Medicine, Springfield, IL
Lisabeth DiLalla, PhD , Family and Community Medicine, SIU School of Medicine, Carbondale, IL
Background –Although more students report adopting a ‘healthy lifestyle', it's generally unknown if that translates into decreased risky sexual activities, or how such attitudes may be utilized for creating effective interventions.

Objective – To determine university student attitudes towards health, health seeking behaviors, and concomitant sexual activity.

Methods – University students were surveyed (2010-2011) concerning their perceived personal health and sexual activity.

Results – 289 valid surveys were received. Participants were 54.3% male, 51.2% white and 32.9% black, mean age of 19.4 years. Overall, 62.4% of males and 48.1% of females reported actively pursuing a healthy lifestyle (STYL; p=0.043), 54.6% and 40.4% ate 15+ healthy meals per week (MEAL; p=0.057), 81.4% and 57.3% performed moderate exercise at least 5X/week (EXER; p<0.000). However, 50.3% males and 47.3% females report ever smoking (no race or gender differences). Smokers were more likely to engage in anal sex (27.9% vs 15.6%; p=0.012; males only: 30.8% vs 10.3%; p=0.002) and less likely to pursue a healthy lifestyle (49.6% vs. 62.3%; p=0.027; males only: 54.4% vs. 71.2%; p=0.036). STYL, MEAL and EXER were not associated with giving/receiving anal sex, condom use frequency, number of oral or vaginal sexual partners, or consideration of CT testing (p>0.050 all).

Conclusions – While the majority of respondents, especially males, report pursuing a healthy lifestyle, eating healthy meals, and exercising, such activities are not associated with concomitant reductions in risky sexual behavior. This disconnect may provide the basis for an educational intervention incorporating sexual health as a component of overall health.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. To describe the extent of and differences in health seeking behaviors in a university student population. 2. To determine if health seeking behaviors are associated with decreased risky health behaviors such as smoking and risky sexual activities. 3. To discuss how these attitudes and activities may be used to influence an intervention whereby sexual health is promoted as a component of overall health.

Keywords: Sexual Risk Behavior, Health Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have the education (MPH, PhD) and experience (13 years in state health department and 4 years academics) to perform and present the work.
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.