Sexual Behavior Prevalence and Its Predictors Among Students in an American University


Understanding the relationships and sexual behavior of university students will help educators and service-providers meet the reproductive health needs of students. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of relationship behaviors and their predictors among students attending an American university. A cross-sectional survey was carried out among 924 students attending Central Michigan University. A self-administered structured questionnaire was derived from the World Health Organization and sent via emails to the participants. Descriptive analysis, bivariate and linear regression were used to analyze the data. This study showed that the average age of the first sexual encounter was 18.20 ± 4.31 years and the prevalence of having a girlfriend/boyfriend among university students was 92.1%. In total, 86.9% of students described their relationship as serious, 95.4% of cases announced that their boy/girlfriend was single when they started the relationship and someone who was working or were a full-time student (93.8%). Our results showed that only age was associated with relationship behavior among sociodemographic characteristics as older students had higher relationship behavior scores (OR: 0.09, CI 95% [0.03, 0.16]). There was no association between students' knowledge of risky sexual behavior and sex education (OR: 0.04, CI 95% [0.71–0.17]). Moreover, the history of sex education during school years was not associated with relationship behavior during university years. This study showed that although university students started their sexual relationship at a reasonable age, their knowledge about risky sexual behavior was not significantly associated with sex education. Future interventional studies pointing to the sexual knowledge and behavior of university students are recommended.

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The authors thank all Central Michigan University students who participated in this survey.


The Central Michigan University supported this work under Grant IRB: 1031916–4.

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Correspondence to Shahla Faal Siahkal.

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All authors declare no conflict of interest. Neither of the authors has any financial disclosure.

Ethical Approval

The Ethics committee approved the study's protocol of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at CMU (IRB: 1031916–4). All procedures performed in the study under the ethical standards of the university research and ethics committee. Consent for participation was understood by the completion and submission of the survey.

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Jahanfar, S., Abedi, P. & Siahkal, S.F. Sexual Behavior Prevalence and Its Predictors Among Students in an American University. Sexuality & Culture (2021).

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  • Relationship behavior
  • University students
  • Sexual relationship