Exploring the Association between Mentoring Relationships and Sexual Health Behaviors in College
thesisposted on 17.02.2017, 00:00 by Fasika Yirga Alem
This exploratory study investigated the prevalence and characteristics of mentoring relationships among college students, assessed the prevalence of sexual health discussions and support in mentoring relationships and the association between mentoring and sexual health behaviors among study participants. One-hundred and thirty-seven students at a large, urban, 4-year university in the Midwest participated in the study. Eighty-five percent of participants reported having at least one mentor; 9% had a mentor within the university (a University mentor), 42% had a mentor from outside the university (a Community mentor), and 34% had both types of mentors. While mentors were more likely to be matched by gender with their mentees, only Community mentors were likely to be matched by race/ethnicity with their mentees. Over half of University mentors (54.2%) were other students at the university; 32.2% were faculty and 13.6% were staff. On the other hand, 50.0% of Community mentors were family members, 28.8% were non-familial adults, and 21.2% were peers. Relationships with student or peer mentors were associated with more frequent contact and with sexual health discussions compared to relationships with other types of mentors (faculty, staff, familial, and non-familial). Sexual health discussions were more likely to occur in relationships with more frequent contact for both types of mentoring relationships. Students with a University mentor were more likely to report two or more sexual partners than students with no mentor or students with a Community mentor. Students with a familial mentor, however, were more likely to report consistent condom use than those with a peer or non-familial mentor. Additionally, students who had daily contact with their Community mentor were less likely to report two or more sexual partners and less likely to report that their last sexual partner was a casual partner than students who had less frequent contact. Although findings in this exploratory study suggest that natural mentoring relationships may have mixed effects on sexual health behaviors among college students, the study had a number of limitations that suggest cautious interpretation of findings.