Online Program

Exploring interest in the introduction of a mobile health app for college students to help improve and mange their sexual health

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 5:10 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Alice Richman, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Education and Promotion, East Carolina University, College of Health and Human Performance, Greenville, NC
Monica Webb, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Education and Promotion, East Carolina University, College of Health and Human Performance, Greenville, NC
Jason Brinkley, PhD, Department of Biostatistics, East Carolina University, College of Allied Health Sciences, Greenville, NC
Ryan J. Martin, Ph.D., Department of Health Education and Promotion, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Background: College students face challenges which may negatively impact their sexual health. Technology has become critical in how college students seek health-related information. Almost all (96%) undergraduate students own a cell phone, with 9 in 10 young adults ages 18-29 using them to look up “just-in-time” information. Objective/Purpose: We sought to: 1) assess mobile technology usage and sexual health behaviors of college students and 2) explore interest in use of a free app to improve and manage their sexual health.

Methods: A randomly-selected sample of 5,000 undergraduate students attending a rural university in the south were invited to complete a 33-item electronic survey assessing demographics, mobile health app usage, and sexual health behaviors. Data analysis included a cluster analysis with a batch algorithm using a locally weighted linear smoother.

Results: Of 871 participants, most were female (73%), White (76%), heterosexual (91%), and 18-21 years old (83%). Most (74%) own a Smartphone, use it to access the internet (76%), and use apps (75%). More than half (58%) reported using their cell phone to look up health information. Many (67%) reported interest in using an app to manage their sexual health. The top three most useful features included a period tracker (30%), birth control reminders (29%), and sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy symptom checker (25%). Interest in the app varied. College students who engage in high amounts of sex, mostly with the same person and moderate amount of sex, with 1-2 people were 2.82 times (95% CI 1.55-5.46) and 3.06 times (95% CI 1.45-7.29) (respectively) as likely to be interested in using the app as compared to those who engage in no or rare vaginal sex (p=0.0002).

Discussion/Conclusions: A health app to help manage the sexual behaviors of college students may indeed aid the population of students who need it the most.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Communication and informatics

Learning Objectives:
Describe current technology usage among college students List at least three top sexual health app features as selected by college students Identify the characteristics of who is most interested in using a free app to improve and manage the sexual health of college students

Keyword(s): Sexual Risk Behavior, Information Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal of grants focusing on sexual health and technology. These areas are one of my primary research interests and I have published in this area as well.
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.