, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 306-316
Date: 19 May 2012

Through the Eyes of the Student: What College Students Look for, Find, and Think about Sexual Health Resources on Campus

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Abstract

Most college students are sexually active, and high-risk sexual behaviors are common in this population. College health services typically offer sexual health resources, but the extent varies widely and these services may be under-utilized by students. Understanding how a diverse sample of students views college health resources is a critical step towards more effectively addressing students' sexual health needs. Seventy-eight students (mean age = 20.5) from five Minnesota colleges participated in “go-along” interviews in 2010. Colleges included both two- and four-year institutions in metropolitan and non-metro locations, and the student sample was diverse. Participants led researchers around their campus physically and virtually to explore sexual health resources in that setting. Transcribed recordings were coded and organized into descriptive categories. Top resources identified by students included condom distribution programs (88.5 %), on-campus health clinics (80.8 %), off-campus clinics (75.6 %), and sexual health information (71.8 %). Important differences were noted between students at two- and four-year colleges. Students offered many reflections on positive and negative aspects of each resource and suggestions for making resources accessible, comfortable, and useful. Increased communication about available resources was a priority for students. College health service staff and administrators should consider the types of sexual health resources students are interested in, the qualities they value in these resources, and ways to make them available to students. Specific implications for expanding resources may differ in two- vs. four-year colleges.