Purpose: To explore and describe influences on female college students to participate in casual sex (CS), and the perceived physical and psychological health consequences following the encounters.
Background: The college experience of emerging adult women involves sexual exploration that may lead to sexual risk taking and CS. Casual sex, risk taking that involves sexual behavior between partners not involved in a committed relationship, can place college women at risk for negative health outcomes, such as sexually transmitted infections, unplanned pregnancy, and/or sexual assault.
Methods: Individual interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of college women from one university in the rural south who reported CS with a stranger and/or brief acquaintance. Written demographic data were obtained and verbatim transcripts of individual recorded interviews were analyzed using content analysis and constant comparison. Similar data clusters were combined into 1) inhibiting and 2) facilitating factors/global categories of influences, and 3) themes for perceived psychological outcomes.
Results: Twenty-three women (83% White) were interviewed. All CS encounters were heterosexual. Two categories of women (age 18-24; M – 20.7) emerged: those hopeful for a relationship after CS and those wanting a CS experience without commitment. Participants were influenced by personal (i.e. recent breakup, no commitment) and environmental (i.e. parties, social media) factors to participate in CS. Inhibitors to CS or continued encounters were religious/personal beliefs about CS, potential for negative reputation among peers, and/or disapproving response by family/friends. Women seeking relationships with CS had negative psychological outcomes; but women seeking sex without a commitment reported none. All women denied negative physical health outcomes.
Conclusions: Facilitators superseded inhibiting factors, and women continued to participate in several CS encounters before inhibitors began to influence behaviors. For others, facilitators continued to outweigh inhibitors, and these women continued to have CS. Casual sexual relationships may or may not result negative psychological health outcomes. These findings have the potential to guide development of effective sexual health promotion programs on high school and college campuses. Implementation of educational programs tailored to this data may reduce the incidence of sexual risk taking behaviors among emerging adult college women.
|Advisor:||McSweeney, Jean, Jones, Tammy|
|Commitee:||Jones, Sara, Rhoads, Sarah, Meaux, Julie, Bricker, Christina|
|School:||University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences|
|School Location:||United States -- Arkansas|
|Source:||DAI-B 81/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Social psychology, Public health|
|Keywords:||Casual sex, College students, Hooking up, Hook ups, Women's health|
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