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Funded Projects

College resources and sexual health

Grantee: University of Minnesota
Principal Investigator: Marla Eisenberg
Project Number: R40MC17160
Project Date: 2/1/2010

Final Report

College resources and sexual health Final Report (PDF)

Age group(s)

  • Women/Maternal
  • Young Adulthood (19-25 years)


The overwhelming majority (94%) of college students are sexually active, and many engage in a wide variety of sexual risk behaviors that can have long-lasting impacts on their health and academic success. The proposed study, College Health Services and Sexual Health, seeks to advance understanding of how institutional factors shape sexual risk behaviors of older adolescent college students, and to identify optimal health services to promote students' sexual health. Specifically, we plan to build upon the prior research of our investigative team to assess college health services regarding sexual health, and examine the association between these institutional factors and sexual health behaviors and outcomes among students. We propose an observational study using a sample of 20 two-year community/technical colleges and four-year colleges/universities to measure their sexual health services, and link these data to sexual risk behaviors and outcomes among students attending these institutions. This study has the following specific aims: Aim 1: Develop a theoretically grounded approach to promoting sexual and reproductive health among college students based on in-depth knowledge of colleges' health services regarding sexuality; and Aim 2: Study the associations between the college sexual health services (institutional level) and high risk sexual behaviors and outcomes among college students (individual level) and how these associations may be moderated by individual and institutional characteristics. To fulfill these aims, we have brought together an interdisciplinary team of investigators with complementary expertise in environmental influences on health behaviors, adolescent health, qualitative methods and statistical analysis to conduct a multi-level, cross-sectional study of colleges and their students. Specifically, the team will use go-along interviews and other methods to develop a sound instrument to measure college sexual health services, and will use it to assess these services at 20 colleges througout Minnesota. In addition, we will partner with our University's student health service to survey approximately 10,000 students attending these institutions regarding their sexual risk behaviors (including unprotected intercourse, multiple sexual partners, casual sexual partners and sex while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs) and outcomes (unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections). Understanding college health services and their influence on students' sexual risk behaviors sets the stage for expanding and developing services and programs identified as more likely to promote healthful sexual behaviors among students even in settings without an established health service infrastructure. Findings from the proposed study would be immediately useful to college health service personnel for prioritizing services, revising communication strategies and messages, and delivering health care to young people. Public health relevance: This research represents an advance in the study of institutional influences on health behaviors, and will address a critical gap by developing sound measures of the college health services. In addition, this study targets sexual behaviors of older adolescents, a particularly high-risk group, in an important, transitional life stage during which many long-term behavior patterns are established. The knowledge to be gained will consist of scientifically valid conclusions that can lead to institutional actions designed to decrease behaviors which contribute to unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Our specific aims are a fundamental step towards the development of effective institutional-level reproductive health promotion with this population, which will ultimately contribute to a decrease in sexual risk behaviors among young people.


Listed is descending order by year published.

Eisenberg ME, Lust KA, Hannan PJ, Porta C. Campus sexual violence resources and emotional health of college women who have experienced sexual assault. Violence Vict. 2016;31(2):274-284.

Eisenberg ME, Lust KA, Garcia CM. Differences in sexual behaviors among unmarried sexually active students at 2- and 4-year colleges. Res Nurs Health. 2014;37(2):128-134.

Garcia CM, Lechner KE, Frerich EA, Lust KA. College students’ preferences for health care providers when accessing sexual health resources. Public Health Nurs. 2014;31(5):387-394.

Eisenberg ME, Hannan PJ, Lust KA, Lechner KE, Garcia C, Frerich EA. Sexual health resources at Minnesota colleges: associations with students' sexual health behaviors. Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2013;45(3):132-8.

Lechner KE, Garcia CM, Frerich EA, Lust K, Eisenberg ME. College students' sexual health: personal responsibility or the responsibility of the college? J Am Coll Health. 2013;61(1):28-35.

Eisenberg ME, Garcia C, Frerich EA, et al. Through the eyes of the student: what college students look for, find, and think about sexual health resources on campus. Sexuality Research and Social Policy. 2012;9(4):306-316.

Eisenberg ME, Lechner KE, Frerich EA, Lust KA, Garcia CM. Characterizing sexual health resources on college campuses. J Community Health. 2012;37(5):940-948.

Frerich EA, Garcia CM, Long SK, Lechnner KE, Lust K, Eisenberg ME. Health care reform and young adults' access to sexual health care: an exploration of potential confidentiality implications of the affordable care act. American Journal of Public Health. 2012;102(10):1818-1821.

Garcia CM, Lechner KE, Frerich EA, Lust KA, Eisenberg ME. Preventing sexual violence instead of just responding to it: students' perceptions of sexual violence resources on campus. J Forensic Nursing. 2012;8(2):61-71.

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