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Benno Torgler

Queensland University of Technology

Because healthcare professionals are in the best position to assess, assist and educate those participating in risky sexual behaviour, understanding if (and how) their risk attitudes differ from the wider population is of vital importance. In this study, we explore university health students’ risk attitudes towards unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). We examine whether university students pursuing health-related degrees, who hypothetically should have more exposure to and understanding of the risks associated with unplanned pregnancy and STD, have more risk averse attitudes to sexual behaviour. We find that health students’ sexual attitudes are significantly more risk averse than those of their nonhealth peers in relation to STDs but not unplanned pregnancy. In line with previous research, age and no previous sexual history (virginity) appear to increase risk-averse attitudes to both unplanned pregnancy and STDs. Moreover, males and singles are more risk seeking in their sexual attitudes. These findings suggest that, because unplanned pregnancy and STDs are ongoing global issues, further research is warranted into the risk attitudes of those healthcare professionals most able to provide education and support for individuals participating in risky sexual behaviour.

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