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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Sexuality-related attitudes significantly modulate demographic variation in sexual health literacy in Tasmanian university students

Steve Simpson Jr A E , Christine Clifford B , Michael G. Quinn B , Kaz Ross C , Neil Sefton B , Louise Owen D , Leigh Blizzard A and Richard Turner B

A Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tas. 7000, Australia.

B School of Medicine, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tas. 7000, Australia.

C School of Humanities, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tas. 7000, Australia.

D Sexual Health Services, Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services, Hobart, Tas. 7000, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: steve.simpson@utas.edu.au

Sexual Health - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SH16135
Submitted: 18 May 2016  Accepted: 2 November 2016   Published online: 9 January 2017

Abstract

Background: It has previously been shown that there is a significant demographic variation in sexual health literacy (SHL) in university-level students in Tasmania, Australia. Aims: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of statistical adjustment for sexuality-related attitudes on this demographic variation in SHL. Methods: Iterated principal-factor analysis was used to evaluate latent variable grouping of responses to 21 attitudinal questions regarding sexuality and sexual behaviour. Linear regression was used to evaluate the distribution and determinants of attitudinal patterns and thence the relationship of these patterns to SHL. Results: Three patterns – conservative, anti-persons-living-with-HIV and sexually responsible – were identified as explaining variation in sexual attitudes; the former two being associated with significantly lower SHL and the latter associated with significantly higher SHL. Adjustment for these patterns significantly attenuated much of the differences in SHL by birthplace/ethnicity and religion, including among South and South-East Asian and Protestant, Islamic and Hindu students. However, some differences in SHL persisted, suggesting they are partly or fully independent of the attitudinal questions. Conclusions: As hypothesised, differences in attitude significantly explained much of the demographic differences in SHL found previously. These results suggest that sexual education and orientation efforts need to bear cultural framing in mind to enhance uptake by students.


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