Exploring the Determinants of Risky Sexual Behavior Among Ethnically Diverse University Students: the Student Behavioral Health Survey-Web

  • Muni Rubens
  • Anamica Batra
  • Elena Sebekos
  • Hideaki Tanaka
  • Kemesha Gabbidon
  • William DarrowEmail author


Universities create policies and develop programs to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Unfortunately, most historically Black colleges and Hispanic-serving institutions have limited information about student practices and program effectiveness. This study examined the prevalence and determinants of risky sex among students attending a Hispanic-serving university. A cross-sectional online survey was conducted to obtain sensitive data from a random sample of students. Nearly two-thirds (65.2%) of 632 respondents reported engaging in risky sex. Sexual risk was significantly associated with older age (AOR = 2.16, 95% CI 1.09–4.30), lower self-control (AOR = 0.58, 95% CI 0.34–0.97), and higher alcohol (AOR = 2.10, 95% CI 1.20–3.67) and drug use (AOR = 2.59, 95% CI 1.48–4.50). Most respondents were unaware of university policies and programs. Programs to improve sexual health must influence risk-taking students. Perceptions of self-control and use of alcohol and drugs affected sexual decision-making. These factors should be ascertained and addressed by behavioral interventions aimed at minimizing risky behaviors and limiting the transmission of sexually transmitted infections.


Behavioral intervention Binge drinking College students Health equity Online survey Sexual risks 



We appreciate the contributions of our classmates, Meredith Wilcox, Kathleen McInvale, Sheila McKinney, and Soumyadeep Mukherjee for their helpful participation in the conceptualization of the research problem and development, pre-test, and implementation of the Student Behavioral Health Survey-Web. We thank faculty members, administrators, and staff of the university and the Student Health Center, particularly Dr. Adriana Campa, Dr. Consuelo Boronat, Dr. Oscar Loynaz, and Ms. Dona Walcott for their interest, guidance, and support. Most importantly, we are grateful for our fellow students who responded to our e-mail invitation and completed and returned an anonymous online questionnaire.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The research protocol, instruments, and procedures were reviewed and approved as exempt by the university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Telehealth Center of ExcellenceBaptist Health South FloridaCoral GablesUSA
  2. 2.Jefferson Dental ClinicDallasUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social WorkFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South FloridaSt. PetersburgUSA

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