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Sexual Health Knowledge, Perceived Social Support, and Safe Sex Behavior Among International Students in Korea

Other Titles
 외국인 유학생의 성 건강 지식, 지각된 사회적 지지, 안전한 성 행위에 대한 연구 
 College of Nursing (간호대학) 
 Others (기타) 
Issue Date
This is a descriptive correlational study with aims to examine the relationship between sexual health knowledge, perceived social support, and safe sex behavior among international students in Korea. An online survey of this study was completed by undergraduate and graduate Asian international students in the Seoul metropolitan area between April 12th and 28th, 2017. The questionnaires in the survey were provided in both English and Korean including instruments of the short form of Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale Revised (CESD-R-10) by Andresen et al. (1994), sexual health knowledge questionnaire developed by Ho (2009); the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MPSS) modified by Zhang (2012); and the Safe Sex Behavior Questionnaire (SSBQ) developed by DiIorio et al., (1992). The data collected from 245 students were analyzed using SPSS 23.0. Of the 245 participants, about 20% were each from China, Vietnam, Mongolia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Most of the participants were female (69.4%), religious (61.2%), living in Seoul (78.0%), and had been in Korea between two to four years (35.9%). In terms of health behavior, 71.8% reported to moderately exercise at least once a week, 9.0% currently smoked cigarettes, and 44.1% consumed alcohol. Based on the results of the CES-D-R-10 scores, 63.7% of the participants were found to be depressed. In regards to sex-related characteristics, about half of the total sample (48.6%) have experienced sexual intercourse. Only 41.6% had an official sex education in the past and 61.6% wished to participate in a sex education program. The sex education topic most requested was “prevention and treatment of STIs/HIV” and highest sexual concern was found in “lack of accurate sexual knowledge”. The average score of sexual health knowledge was 4.41±2.34 and 39.31±6.41 (3.57±0.58) for perceived social support. The subscales of the perceived social support were 15.23 ±3.22 (3.81±0.80) for family support, 15.24±3.17 (3.88±0.83) for friends support, and 8.84 ±2.31 (2.95±0.77) for school support. Among the participants with experience with sexual intercourse (n=119), the average safe sex behavior score was 65.18±8.32 and the subscale scores were 19.33±3.98 for condom use, 13.45±3.02 for partner communications about safe sex, and 32.41±4.31 for avoidance of risky behaviors. In terms of relationships, strong positive correlations were found between perceived social support and safe sex behavior (r=.234, p=.010), and between perceived friend support and safe sex behavior (r=.326, p<.001). However, no significant relationship was found between sexual health knowledge and safe sex behavior. Factors influencing safe sex behavior were identified as gender (β=.221, p=.019) and perceived social support (β =2.197, p=.032). Based on these findings, gender and perceived social support significantly influence safe sex behavior among international students. They have low sexual health knowledge, low perceived school support, high concerns in lack of accurate sexual knowledge, and high demand for sex education. Hence, a tailored sexual health interventions are needed focusing on sexual health to increase healthy sexual awareness to promote safe sex behavior. Incorporating involvement of friends and peers is also important to ensure effectiveness of the interventions for international students in Korea.
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