The experience of sexual health and wellness varies for newly independent college freshmen. For reproductive-age women, gaps in knowledge and self-efficacy overlap with barriers to accessing contraception and reproductive health care contributing to high-risk behavior and poor sexual health outcomes. Community-based participatory research was used to develop and implement a peer-education program targeting sorority women on a college campus in the Southeastern United States in the fall semester of 2021. Two senior nursing majors completed continuing education to be empowered as peer educators using The University of California San Francisco Beyond the Pill framework. They engaged directly with nursing faculty stakeholders and the research team to facilitate group contraceptive counseling sessions for sixty-two of their peers, through the shared social network of their sorority. Two contraceptive counseling sessions were piloted during the 2 month intervention period. The majority of respondents answered “yes” to previously having a class that included content on sexual health and/or reproduction, although key findings highlighted a gap between knowledge and self-efficacy within this population. Sexual health content and information related to values, practical skills, and communication, including negotiating safe sex and condom use, were requested by respondents.
Methods and Results
While 70% of the respondents received a prescription or method of birth control within the last year, none of the respondents were accessing their contraceptive care through university health services. Of the 18 session participants, 10 indicated they were “extremely or somewhat likely” to make changes to their current contraceptive plan after the session content. Results identify the underutilization of student health for well-woman exams, STI screenings, and prescriptions or methods of birth control. A tremendous opportunity awaits student health services to provide evidence-based contraceptive care to a currently vulnerable and underserved population of young women.