College students and sexual risk behavior

Danielle R Oster, University of Rhode Island


Young adults, particularly college students, are at increased risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Although sexual risk behavior and its consequences are a major public health concern, current prevention literature is insufficient and relies on self-report sexual risk measures that lack psychometric support. The present study, therefore, examined the psychometric properties of a sexual risk survey (SRS), using data from the first year of a longitudinal study following the outcomes of college students with and without ADHD (N=410). The present study hypothesized that rates of sexual risk behavior would be similar to that reported by a national sample of college students. Research suggests that being of the male sex (gender), using alcohol or substances within the context of sexual activity, and ADHD symptomatology, is associated with greater sexual risk behavior. Therefore it was hypothesized that males, those reporting alcohol or drug use prior to or during the time of sexual activity, and participants with ADHD symptomatology would report greater levels of sexual risk behavior. Multiple regression analyses revealed that alcohol or drug use prior to or during sex and ADHD-inattentive symptomatology were positively associated with sexual risk behavior. In contrast, sex (gender) and ADHD-hyperactive impulsive symptomatology were not associated with sexual risk behavior. In addition, a principal components analysis was conducted to assess the psychometric properties of the SRS, and revealed four components. Descriptive statistics revealed that 39% of participants had taken part in high-risk sexual behaviors (i.e., vaginal sex without a condom). Implications of the findings are discussed and suggestions for future studies are advanced.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Danielle R Oster, "College students and sexual risk behavior" (2015). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1586306.