Urology

October 2011

Research

Female international students and sexual health

A qualitative study into knowledge, beliefs and attitudes

Volume 40, No.10, October 2011 Pages 817-820

Adrienne Burchard

Caroline Laurence

Nigel Stocks

Background

International students make up an increasing proportion of university students in Australia. Research suggests that they have poor sexual health knowledge compared with local students.

Methods

Thematic analysis was undertaken on focus groups carried out at the University of Adelaide (South Australia), with 21 female international students from Malaysia and China.

Results

Four themes were identified: poor sexual health knowledge; complex attitudes about premarital sex; difficulty accessing sexual health information, and poor understanding the role of general practitioners in this area; and ideas about future education.

Discussion

Participants believed that international students have insufficient sexual health education when they arrive in Australia. They were concerned that some students may become more sexually active in Australia, and may not have adequate access to health services and information. All participants felt it was necessary for international students to receive better sexual health education. International students are important to Australian universities, and it should be mandatory to ensure that culturally appropriate sex education is made available to this group.

International students make up an increasing proportion of university students in Australia. In 2008 there were 435 000 international students studying in Australia1 with the largest group being from China (22.2%).2 A recent Australian survey suggested that international students have poor sexual health knowledge compared with local students.3

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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Type

Research