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Drug Alcohol Rev. 2007 Nov;26(6):645-51.

Harmful effects of alcohol on sexual behaviour in a New Zealand university community.

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  • 1Injury Prevention Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago Medical School, Dunedin, New Zealand.



The prevalence of hazardous drinking among university students in New Zealand is very high, but the impacts on sexual behaviour are largely unknown. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence and correlates of alcohol-related risky and unwanted sexual experiences.


We conducted a web-based survey of a random sample of university students, asking about specific experiences resulting from their own drinking or the drinking of others, and some beliefs about drinking.


A total of 1564 students responded (82%) and the following were reported as the result of drinking, by women and men respectively, in the last 3 months: unprotected sex 11% and 15%; sex they were not happy with at the time 6% and 7%; sex later regretted 16% and 19%. Also, 34% of women and 25% of men reported unwanted sexual advances in the past 4 weeks as a result of other people's drinking. These experiences were all associated positively with Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores of the respondents, certain types of living arrangements and specific attitudes to drinking. In addition, 1% of women and 0.5% of men reported sexual assault in the past 4 weeks.


Interventions to reduce alcohol-related risky sexual behaviours should target both male and female drinkers and identifiable subgroups at higher risk. Prevention policy should also address the high levels of availability and promotion of alcohol in the campus environment.

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