Date of Award

8-9-2014

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Health Promotion, Education and Behavior

First Advisor

Lucy Annang Ingram

Abstract

College life is often regarded as a time for exploration and growth. One major area of exploration and growth for college students is sex and sexuality. Growth and exploration involves not only learning how to master these life situations, but also experiencing some negative consequences. Negative consequences for college students engaging in sexual risk-taking behaviors often lead to a high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unintended pregnancies, emotional distress, and large healthcare costs. Given the high prevalence of risky sexual behavior among young adults and the highly negative consequences of risky sexual behavior for this population, it is critical to identify factors related to decreased sexual risk behavior among college students that will decrease the incidence of STIs and HIV/AIDS. Although educational programs targeting the sexual health of young adults have been in use for quite some time, little is known about the effectiveness of newer modes of sex education. Given that more research needs to be conducted to begin to evaluate the effectiveness of new media targeting sexual health, the goal of this study was to determine the efficacy and feasibility of an interactive sexual health web-based application intervention designed specifically to decrease sexual risk behaviors among college students (Sex 101). Data were collected from May 2013 through February 2014 from college students (ages 18-20) at a large public university. Focus groups were conducted with 27 students. Survey data (pre- and post-test) were collected from 118 students, who participated in Sex 101. Qualitative analyses indicated that college students were receptive and wanting of sexual education via web-based delivery. Quantitative results suggest no reduction in sexual risk behaviors or intention to reduce sexual risk from pre-to post-test. However, positive attitudes, positive subjective norms, and high self-efficacy predicted placement in the consistent category for use of a condom, partner communication, not engaging in partner concurrency, and not engaging in sexual activity under the influence of alcohol. Furthermore, college students showed an increase in knowledge and attitudes for contraceptive use respectively (p=.000, p=.05). When designing interventions for young college students, researchers should consider incorporating theory based concepts, as well as using innovative delivery methods. Findings suggest that web-based interventions designed to decrease sexual risk behaviors among college students have the potential to be feasible and effective at reducing sexual risk behaviors in the population.

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