Online Program

Let's talk about sex: The impact of relationship type on sexual communication

Monday, November 4, 2013

Nancy Moore, MPH, CPH, Department: Health Promotion and Behavior, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Rachel Powell, MPH, CHES, CPH, Department: Health Promotion & Behavior, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Jessie Barnett, MPH, PhD, Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Christina Proctor, PhD, Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Katy Hein, Ph.D., Health Promotion and Behavior, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Jessica Muilenburg, PhD, Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Research has well documented the vast hook up culture existing within the college experience. Communication is a vital facilitation tool of negotiating relationships within the hookup culture. Additionally, communication has been shown to influence actual condom use by impacting one's intentions to use condoms and the condom negotiation process. However, safe sexual practices are dependent on one's communication self-efficacy. The purpose of this study is to investigate the communication practices of sexually active students based on relationship type. We surveyed 322 college students at a Southeastern university using an anonymous questionnaire relating to sexual behaviors. The majority of the participants were female (75.6%) and White (73.0%). Overall, participants in casual relationships had lower communication self-efficacy when compared with those in monogamous relationships. Individuals in casual relationships were most comfortable discussing sexually transmitted infection prevention (49.7%), birth control (66.5%), condom use (67.1%), relationship status (50.9%), sexual orientation (54.6%), and religion (51.8%). However, not as many individuals were comfortable with discussing abstinence (46.1%), dating violence (43.6%), pregnancy decision making (42.3%), STI testing (30.9%), sexual past (34.3%), trying new things (31.5%). Because college students have a higher partnership turnover rate and are less likely to use condoms, programs should be more focused on developing more efficient communication skills in different types of relationships. Further, research should focus more on uncovering the reasons why individuals do not feel comfortable discussing certain topics within different relationships.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify how individuals communicate based on the type of relationship. Discuss the implications of these different partnerships on communication and the need for programs to address communication self-efficacy.

Keyword(s): Communication, Sexual Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral student focused on studying college students and risky behaviors. In the past I have examined the current sexual behaviors of college students, and currently, I am working on two projects looking at the progression of sexual behaviors in college students and condom use intentions, initiation, and continuation among female college students. I am also working on partnering with our university health center to design better sexual health programs.
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.