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Women decrease condom use during freshman year of college, study finds
Date:2/28/2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I. Women gradually use condoms less frequently during their first year of college, according to a new study by researchers from The Miriam Hospital's Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine. This was particularly true for women who binge drink, have lower grade point averages or come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

The findings, published online in the Journal of Sex Research, offer some of the first clues to how condom use changes during the college years a time when young people are sexually active and use condoms inconsistently.

"We know unprotected sex puts women at greater risk for unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, yet there has been a gap in research specifically focusing on changes in condom use during women's college years," said lead author Jennifer Walsh, Ph.D., a researcher with The Miriam Hospital's Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine. "Identifying the demographic and behavioral changes associated with decreases in condom use can eventually lead to more targeted educational and intervention efforts."

The study included 279 first-year female college students who provided monthly reports on condom use. Predictors of condom use were assessed at the beginning of the academic year and included questions about participants' high school GPA, religious beliefs, parents' education levels and whether the had smoked marijuana or engaged in binge drinking during the month prior to college entry (August). Nearly three-quarters of participants were Caucasian.

Using a statistical technique known as latent growth modeling, researchers observed a gradual decline in condom use over the course of the students' first year of college, as predicted. This included condom use with all partners and with romantic partners specifically.

However, the study revealed several unexpected predictors of initial condom use. African American women, women who did not smo
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Contact: Jessica Grimes
jgrimes2@lifespan.org
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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