Sexual health literacy of the student population of the University of Tasmania: results of the RUSSL Study
Background: Evidence suggests a varied level of sexual health literacy (SHL) among university student populations, so we evaluated the SHL among students at the University of Tasmania.
Methods: Students were invited to complete an anonymous online questionnaire during August/September 2013. SHL was assessed using the ARCSHS National Survey of Australian Secondary Students & Sexual Health (ARC) and the Sexual Health Questionnaire (SHS). Predictors of literacy scores were evaluated by linear regression.
Results: The study recruited 1786 participants (8.2% of 2013 student population), of similar composition to the general university population. Female sex, older age, sexual education, and sexual experience were significant predictors of SHL. As hypothesised, students in medical/nursing disciplines had the highest SHL. Less expected were the significant differences by birthplace and religious affiliation, many of which persisted on adjustment for confounders. Compared with Australian/New Zealander students, overseas-born students had significantly lower ARC (–3.6%, P < 0.001) & SHS (–4.2%, P < 0.001); this was driven by Malaysian, Indian, and Chinese students. Compared with agnostic/atheist-identifying students, those of Buddhist (ARC: –5.4%, P = 0.014; SHS: –6.7%, P = 0.002), Hindu (ARC: –8.8%, P = 0.098; SHS: –12.2%, P = 0.027), Muslim (ARC: –16.5%, P < 0.001; SHS: –13.4%, P = 0.001) and Protestant (ARC: –2.3%, P = 0.023; SHS: –4.4%, P < 0.001) identifications had markedly lower SHL.
Conclusions: This study, one of the first among university students in Australia, found a varied SHL by sex, age, sexual education and sexual experience, as well as by birthplace and religious affiliation. These findings have applications in orientation and education programs at Australian universities.
Publication titleSexual Health (Print): an interdisciplinary journal of sexual health including HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections
Department/SchoolMenzies Institute for Medical Research
Place of publicationAustralia
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