Purpose of Study To investigate the relative contribution of personality and social factors that can enhance risk for HIV/AIDS among medical students.
Design Cross-sectional, anonymous, Web-based survey.
Methods Used 2,698 medical students from 36 US medical schools (1st-4th year) completed this survey. A composite sexual risk index was created from 4 questions: number of sexual partners, condom use with casual and regular partners, and use of alcohol within 2 hours of having sex. The cumulative score ranged from 1 to 6, with higher value representing higher risky sexual behavior.
Summary of Results Mean age of the sample was 26 years; 60% were female. Majority of the sample reported having sex during the last 6 months (n = 2,024, 76%). Multiple regression analysis of 12 potential covariates found significant associations with not married (β = -0.074, p ≤ .008); at-risk drinking (β = 0.152, p ≤ .000); smoking in the last 30 days (β = .067, p ≤ .00-18); having low perception of risk (β = -0.067, p ≤ .015), and being impulsive (β = 0.072, p ≤ .010).
Conclusions Reached Past studies have not thoroughly investigated risky sexual behaviors among medical students, but pilot studies have shown that both sexes engaged in high-risk behaviors. This study demonstrates the impact of personality factors and alcohol on risky sexual behaviors. Research indicates that physicians who have healthier lifestyles will be more inclined than other physicians to educate their patients on the importance of maintaining healthy lifestyles. Intervention during training may be an effective way of reducing these risky behaviors.
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