Sexual health promotion among international students at Tulane
According to the definition developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011, sexual health is an innate part of a person’s overall health and includes multiple dimensions of a person: physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual. As sexual health is an intrinsic part of a person’s health, understanding and improving it is important for a one’s quality of life and general well-being. However, despite high STI rates among college students in the United States (US), international students attending universities in the US have been neglected in the realms of scientific and programmatic research, making it difficult to understand their risks for negative sexual health outcomes, their sexual health needs, and their requirements for effective sexual health promotion programs. This dissertation is divided into three papers that addressed different aspects of international students and their sexual health outcomes. First, a comprehensive literature and programmatic review was conducted. There were 30 studies that were included in the analysis, and they found risk factors similar to domestic students, a number of barriers to accessing sexual health care, and some protective factors. The programmatic review covered the top 10 universities with the most international students enrolled and found no sexual health promotion programs focused on international students although they did have general programs for all students. The second paper described the implementation, analysis and results of the online international students’ sexual health survey at Tulane. The survey found moderate knowledge levels moderate levels of sexual permissiveness, discomfort with contraception and testing, conservative attitudes towards risky sexual behavior, and a number of sexual risk behaviors, such as inconsistent contraceptive use and participating in one-night stands. The last paper discussed an online-based sexual health promotion program for Tulane University international students developed based on the findings of the first and second paper. The program will be led by peer sexual health educators on a forum that includes static sexual health information along with interactive discussions of specific sexual health topics each week for six weeks. These topics are general sexual and reproductive health, STIs and prevention, pregnancy and prevention, healthy relationships, sexual health resources, and sexual violence on campus.