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N Z Med J. 2012 Sep 7;125(1361):62-73.

Sexual health, risks, and experiences of New Zealand university students: findings from a national cross-sectional study.

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  • 1Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. rebecca.psutka@otago.ac.nz



To describe the sexual health and behaviour of university students as a sentinel population of young New Zealanders.


A random sample of 5770 students aged 17-24 from universities across New Zealand were invited to participate in an online survey in 2009. Questions on current sexual behaviours, lifetime unintended pregnancies and terminations, and sexual orientation were included.


2922 students responded (51% of the sample), including 1857 women (61% of respondents), reflecting the high proportion of women in the university population (57%) and higher response from women. Sixty-nine percent of both men and women had ever had sex. Of these, 47% reported =3 partners ever, and 20% had =3 partners in the last 12 months, with no significant gender differences. Describing the last time they had sex, 58% of men and 51% of women reported using a condom and 38% of men and 29% of women had consumed alcohol. Approximately 6% of women and 5% of men reported ever having sex that resulted in an unintentional pregnancy. Of these pregnancies, 74% of women and 72% of men reported a termination while another 19% of men did not know the outcome.


Multiple sexual partnerships were common. Condom use was uncommon and inversely associated with number of recent sexual partners. One in 20 students had or contributed to at least one unintentional pregnancy. The prevalence of risky sexual behaviours in this population raises concern about the number of students at risk of sexually transmitted infections and unintentional pregnancies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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