College of Education Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 11-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Father Patrick McDevitt

Second Advisor

Ronald Chennault

Third Advisor

Alice Stuhlmacher

Abstract

Research has shown a link between sexual risk taking among college women and a decrease in self-esteem. The primary purpose of this study is to explore the sexual risk-taking practices occurring within the academic achieving, more affluent, Caucasian and female college student population. The secondary purpose of this study is to explore what sexual risk-taking patterns exist within behavioral and sociocultural constructed variables and demographic information among college women. The variables examined are religion, self-esteem and reported depressive symptoms. Additional variables used during analysis are body weight and race and/or ethnicity of college women.

There are three primary research questions being examined in this study: (a) Do college women with higher academic achievement report more sexual risk-taking practices than those with lower academic achievement? (b) Do women of a higher socioeconomic status choose birth control over disease prevention in their sexual encounters? (c) Do behavioral and sociocultural variables make a difference in risky sexual behavior of college women?

The American College Health Association (ACHA) National College Health Assessment II (NCHA-II) has been used to measure the college student health habits and practices at over 540 college and universities in the United States and Canada. The instrument was administered online in spring 2010 and received 872 responses, of which 542 were from female students. The data is analyzed through multiple logistic regressions.

Findings of statistical significance were found between academic achievement and sexual risk taking, the number of partners a college woman has and sexual risk taking, and increase in human papillomavirus (HPV). This study also affirmed prior research that there was a significant difference in the sexual risk taking between college women who had been diagnosed with depression in the last year.

The study demonstrates the connection between depressive symptoms and sexual risk taking. The research does not present a judgment about sex—but rather, evidence regarding the lack of disease prevention, the long-term implications, and possible causes of increases in casual sex on college campuses.

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