Journal of Community Health

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 68–73 | Cite as

Students’ Alcohol Use, Sexual Behaviors, and Contraceptive Use While Studying Abroad

  • Tiffany L. Marcantonio
  • Kristen N. Jozkowski
  • D. J. Angelone
  • Meredith Joppa
Original Paper


College study abroad students may represent a subgroup at risk for increased alcohol use and sexual activity while traveling. The present study explored student’s alcohol use, sexual activity, and the interrelationship between the two while abroad. A sample of 372 students (Mage abroad = 20, SD = 3.3, 68% women) who had traveled abroad in the past 3 years were recruited from a large, southern university. Students completed an online survey of demographics, alcohol use, sexual behaviors, and contraceptive use. Students reported consuming an average of six drinks in one sitting, and 76% of women and men met criteria for ‘hazardous drinking’ while abroad. Students who met criteria for ‘hazardous drinking’ were more likely to engage in sexual activity; however, they also had a greater likelihood of wearing a condom. Our findings show students engage in problematic drinking and this is related to their engagement in sexual activity while abroad. Findings extend previous research and suggest study abroad programs should address norms around drinking and sexual activity prior to travel to ensure students’ safety while abroad.


Alcohol use Sexual activity Study abroad students Contraceptive use 


  1. 1.
    Berdychevsky, L. (2016). Antecedents of young women’s sexual risk taking in tourist experiences. The Journal of Sex Research, 53, 927–941. Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bradley, K. A., DeBenedetti, A. F., Volk, R. J., Williams, E. C., Frank, D., & Kivlahan, D. R. (2007). AUDIT-C as a brief screen for alcohol misuse in primary care. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 31, 1208–1217. Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bush, K., Kivlahan, D. R., McDonell, M. B., Fihn, S. D., & Bradley, K. A. (1998). The AUDIT alcohol consumption questions (AUDIT-C): An effective brief screening test for problem drinking. Archives of Internal Medicine, 158, 1789–1795. Scholar
  4. 4.
    Center for Disease Control [CDC]. (2013). Condom effectiveness: Condom fact sheet in brief. Retrieved March 27, 2018, from
  5. 5.
    Center for Disease Control [CDC]. (2017). Sexual Behaviors | Adolescent and School Health. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from
  6. 6.
    Claxton, S. E., DeLuca, H. K., & van Dulmen, M. H. M. (2015). The association between alcohol use and engagement in casual sexual relationships and experiences: A meta-analytic review of non-experimental studies. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 837–856. Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cooper, M. L. (2002). Alcohol use and risky sexual behavior among college students and youth: Evaluating the evidence. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Supplement. Scholar
  8. 8.
    Davis, K. C., Masters, N. T., Eakins, D., Danube, C. L., George, W. H., Norris, J., & Heiman, J. R. (2014). Alcohol intoxication and condom use self-efficacy effects on women’s condom use intentions. Addictive Behaviors, 39, 153–158. Scholar
  9. 9.
    Flack, W. F. Jr., Kimble, M. O., Campbell, B. E., Hopper, A. B., Petercă, O., & Heller, E. J. (2015). Sexual assault victimization among female undergraduates during study abroad: A single campus survey study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 30, 3453–3466. Scholar
  10. 10.
    Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Schick, V., Sanders, S. A., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2010). Background and considerations on the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB) from the investigators. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7, 243–245. Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hummer, J. F., Pedersen, E. R., Mirza, T., & LaBrie, J. W. (2010). Factors associated with general and sexual alcohol-related consequences: An examination of college students while studying abroad. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 47, 427–444. Scholar
  12. 12.
    Institute of International Education. (2016). Open Doors, 2016Fast Facts.” Retrieved from
  13. 13.
    Jozkowski, K. N., & Satinsky, S. (2013). A gender discrepancy analysis of heterosexual behaviors in two university samples. Journal of Community Health, 38, 1157–1165. Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kimble, M., Flack, W. F., & Burbridge, E. (2013). Study abroad increases risk for sexual assault in female undergraduates: A preliminary report. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 5, 426–430. Scholar
  15. 15.
    LaBrie, J., Earleywine, M., Schiffman, J., Pedersen, E., & Marriot, C. (2005). Effects of alcohol, expectancies, and partner type on condom use in college males: Event-level analyses. Journal of Sex Research, 42, 259–266. Scholar
  16. 16.
    Marcantonio, T., Angelone, D. J., & Sledjeski, E. (2015). Using a pattern-centered approach to assess sexual risk-taking in study abroad students. Journal of American College Health, 64, 165–173. Scholar
  17. 17.
    Marcantonio, T., Angelone, D., & Joppa, M. (2018). Understanding contributing factors to verbal coercion while studying abroad. Journal of American College Health. Scholar
  18. 18.
    Nesoff, E. D., Dunkle, K., & Lang, L. (2015). The impact of condom use negotiation self-efficacy and partnership patterns on consistent condom use among college-educated women. Health Education & Behavior, 43, 61–67. Scholar
  19. 19.
    Pedersen, E. R., LaBrie, J. W., & Hummer, J. F. (2009). Perceived behavioral alcohol norms predict drinking for college students while studying abroad. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 70, 924–928. Scholar
  20. 20.
    Pedersen, E. R., Larimer, M. E., & Lee, C. M. (2010). When in Rome: Factors associated with changes in drinking behavior among American college students studying abroad. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 24, 535–540. Scholar
  21. 21.
    Pedersen, E. R., Neighbors, C., Lee, C. M., & Larimer, M. E. (2012). Not all those who wander are lost: Examining the impact of sojourner adjustment and drinking motives on alcohol consequences experienced by Americans studying in foreign countries. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 73, 1005–1015. Scholar
  22. 22.
    Planned Parenthood. (2018). All about birth control methods. Retrieved March 27, 2018, from
  23. 23.
    Shuper, P. A., Joharchi, N., Irving, H., & Rehm, J. (2009). Alcohol as a correlate of unprotected sexual behavior among people living with HIV/AIDS: Review and meta-analysis. AIDS and Behavior, 13, 1021–1036. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health, Human Performance and RecreationUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health, Human Performance and RecreationUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  3. 3.The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyRowan UniversityGlassboroUSA

Personalised recommendations