The Situational Contexts of Sexual Experiences among Urban College Students: An Event-Based Analysis

Patrick A. Wilson, Aaron Sarvet, Kate Walsh, Melanie Wall, Jessie V. Ford, Louisa Gilbert, John Santelli, Jennifer S. Hirsch, Shamus Khan, Claude A. Mellins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: Research examining sex among college students has frequently focused on negative sexual experiences. This study aimed to understand situational predictors of various dimensions of students’ sexual experiences. Methods: 427 college students participated in a 60-day daily survey; 213 reported sex and were asked questions about each sexual encounter. Results: 1,664 sexual encounters were reported. 72.5% were described as very pleasurable, 26.6% as lacking communication, and 9.1% as lacking control. Factors associated with pleasure, control, and communication included partner type and emotional closeness. Substance use and partner age were associated with outcomes differently by gender. Conclusions: Sexual health interventions for college students should focus on communication and pleasure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-215
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Sexual Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Dermatology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • Event-level analysis
  • college students
  • communication
  • pleasure
  • sexual behaviors


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