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J Adolesc Health. 2008 Jun;42(6):573-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.11.138. Epub 2008 Mar 4.

Sexual risk behavior 6 months post-high school: associations with college attendance, living with a parent, and prior risk behavior.

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Social Development Research Group, School of Social Work, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.



This study examined sexual risk behavior (SRB) among a community sample of youth in the fall after their senior year of high school. The primary goal was to examine associations between college and residential status and 3 measures of SRB: casual sex, inconsistent condom use, and high-risk sex.


Data were from 834 participants in the Raising Healthy Children project who were surveyed annually during high school and in the fall of the post-high school year.


Of the participants, 30% reported inconsistent condom use, 23% reported casual sex, and 11% reported high-risk sex in the fall after high school. Youth in college were less likely than noncollege youth to report SRB. The protective association between college attendance on one hand and casual sex and intermittent condom use on the other was fully explained by high school substance use, risky sex, and academic performance. The protective effect of college attendance on high-risk sex was partly explained by high school predictors. Living with parents at age 18-19 years was not related to SRB.


Results from this study indicate that the higher prevalence of SRB among noncollege youth is largely a continuation of patterns of higher risk behavior and lower academic performance during high school. College attendance was protective for the most high-risk sex measure. Findings suggest that human immunodeficiency virus and sexually transmitted infection prevention efforts are needed among young adults who are not attending college and among high school students who have earned poor grades, used drugs, or engaged in SRB.

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