Populations at Risk Across the Lifespan: Population Studies
College Students' Preferences for Health Care Providers when Accessing Sexual Health Resources
Many emerging adults (18–25 year olds) report unmet health needs and disproportionately experience problems such as sexually transmitted infections. This study was conducted to examine college students' perceptions of health care providers, specifically in the context of accessing sexual health resources.
Design and Sample
Students (N = 52) were recruited from five diverse colleges in one state to participate in a one-to-one interview that involved walking and virtually exploring resources on and near campus. Interviews were conducted from May to November 2010.
Open-ended one-to-one interview questions.
Inductive qualitative analysis yielded six themes summarizing students' perceptions of provider characteristics, health care resources, the role of their peers, and students' suggestions for strengthening health care services. Importantly, students consider a variety of staff—and their student peers—to be resources for sexual health information and services.
Findings emphasize the importance of collaboration between health service staff and broader campus staff because students often turn to campus staff initially. Postsecondary students welcome opportunities to know a provider through interactive websites that include details about providers on campus; their decisions to seek sexual health care services are influenced by their perceptions of providers' characteristics and interpersonal skills.