Online Program

Understanding preventative sexual health behaviors among college women: Implications for intervention design

Monday, November 4, 2013

Kristen Jozkowski, PhD, Public Health, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
Alireza Geshnizjani, PhD, MPH, MS, Community Health Education and Recreation, University of Maine, Farmington, ME
Background: On-campus health promotion initiatives utilize social norms theory to design interventions, especially interventions related to sexual health. A basic premise of social norms campaigns is that students' perceptions of what their peers are doing is different than their peers' actual behavior. Given that young adults are highly influenced by social norms, if students are made aware of how their peers “really act,” they are likely to modify their own behavior accordingly. As such, this study aims to provide an overview of female college students' engagement in preventative sexual health behaviors in order to provide empirical evidence to design effective theory and social norms-based interventions.

Methods: A 98-item questionnaire was administered to 608 college women at a large Midwest university, which included demographic and health behavior items.

Results: Most college women reported engaging in a number of preventative sexual health behaviors such as going to the doctor for an annual exam (n= 494, 81.3%), conducting a breast self-examine (n = 342, 56.4%), getting a pap test (n=337, 55.4%) and getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (n=311, 51.2%). Most college women indicated that they had health insurance (n=560, 92.1%); however some women were unsure the extent to which their health insurance covered certain preventative sexual health procedures (e.g., HPV vaccine; n=279, 45.9%).

Implications: Given the high rates of STIs, and HPV in particular, such findings could be utilized to inform interventions in order to improve preventative sexual health behaviors which could lead to primary prevention of STIs and/or early detection.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Describe rates with which women engage in preventative sexual health behaviors Assess the relationship between different demographic and preventative health behavior variables Describe implications for interventions based in social norms campaigns to increase preventative sexual health behaviors

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a PhD in Health Behavior and a Masters degree in Health Promotion from Indiana University. I am also an Assistant Professor in Community Health Promotion at the University of Arkansas.
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.