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J Sex Res. 2014;51(2):131-44. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2013.848255. Epub 2013 Dec 18.

Sexual hookups and adverse health outcomes: a longitudinal study of first-year college women.

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a Department of Psychology , Syracuse University.


"Hookups" are sexual encounters between partners who are not in a romantic relationship and do not expect commitment. We examined the associations between sexual hookup behavior and depression, sexual victimization (SV), and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among first-year college women. In this longitudinal study, 483 women completed 13 monthly surveys assessing oral and vaginal sex with hookup and romantic partners, depression, SV, and self-reported STIs. Participants also provided biological specimens that were tested for STIs. During the study, 50% of participants reported hookup sex and 62% reported romantic sex. Covariates included previous levels of the outcome, alcohol use, impulsivity, sensation seeking, and romantic sex. Autoregressive cross-lagged models showed that, controlling for covariates, hookup behavior during college was correlated with depression, Bs = .21, ps < .05, and SV, Bs = .19, ps < .05. In addition, precollege hookup behavior predicted SV early in college, B = .62, p < .05. Hookup sex, OR 1.32, p < .05, and romantic sex, OR 1.19, p < .05, were associated with STIs. Overall, sexual hookup behavior among college women was positively correlated with experiencing depression, SV, and STIs, but the nature of these associations remains unclear, and hooking up did not predict future depression.

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