Over-confidence about condom skills puts festival goers at risk

November 24, 2016, University of Western Sydney
Credit: University of Western Sydney

A milestone survey* of young people attending a NSW music festival has found that while most of those interviewed felt confident about their condom usage, a significant number had used condoms inconsistently or incorrectly, resulting in high annual rates of condom failures during intercourse.

While 77 per cent of those interviewed said they were confident with their condom practices, 37 per cent had experienced condom breakage in the past year, 48 per cent had seen a condom slip off during intercourse, and 51 per cent when withdrawing the penis after sex.

This poses significant risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), specifically chlamydia and HIV, and unwanted pregnancies, and highlights the need for health promotion campaigns targeting this cohort, according to researchers from the University Centre for Rural Health North Coast (UCRH), Western Sydney University and the North Coast Public Health Unit.

Medical students undergoing UCRH clinical placements, in collaboration with the North Coast HIV & Related Programs (HARP) and the North Coast Positive Adolescent Sexual Health Consortium (PASH), interviewed 290 music festival attendees, male and female, aged 18-29 years.

An 11-question survey was conducted in private at the festival site. It asked for participants' own assessment of their confidence and ability to use condoms consistently and correctly, and how often they did so.

According to Franklin John-Leader, Co-Chair of PASH the survey found that only 18 per cent of respondents said they always used condoms during sex in the past 12 months.

"When asked where they had learnt about condom use, 55 per cent of participants said they had learnt through high school sex education, 27 per cent from a partner, 18 per cent from packet instructions, 17 per cent from friends or family, 7 per cent from the internet, and 5 per cent from a health-care worker," Mr John-Leader said.

"Around 34 per cent of interviewees reported consuming at least ten drinks in the past 24 hours. Not surprisingly, this group was more than twice as likely to feel confident about their ability to use condoms correctly."

Some 94 per cent had been under the influence of drugs or alcohol during sex some time in the last year, while 19 per cent reported being under the influence "most of the time" or "always" when they had sex, according to UCRH researcher Dr Sabrina Pit.

"To our knowledge this is the first study to demonstrate that young Australian festival attendees, as an identified risk group, may be experiencing a significantly higher rate of problems when using condoms."

Dr Pit added, "Despite reasonable levels of confidence in their ability to use condoms, inconsistent use and a high rate of condom failure put this population at an increased risk of contracting , specifically chlamydia.

"This study has implications for sexual health promotion and public health programs, and targeting future interventions toward this group may be of value. There is a need to empower young Australians, particularly females, with knowledge and confidence in order to improve use."

UCRH Director, Professor Ross Bailie said, "This is important research with apparent implications for the health of a significant number of young Australians. It not only has national relevance but is particularly timely for the North Coast as we move into schoolies celebrations and the various music festivals over the holiday season."

*Errors and Predictors of Confidence in Condom Use amongst Young Australians Attending a Music Festival - Karina M Hall, Daniel G. Brieger, Sukhita H. De Silva, Benjamin F. Pfister, Daniel J. Youlden, Franklin John-Leader, Sabrina W. Pit - Errors and Predictors of Confidence in Condom Use amongst Young Australians Attending a Music Festival. Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Volume 2016 (2016). Free download: www.hindawi.com/journals/jstd/2016/6054870/

Explore further: Relationship factors affect young adult use of condoms

Related Stories

Relationship factors affect young adult use of condoms

September 27, 2016
The characteristics of a person's relationship, including commitment and partner-specific risk factors, affect the choice of whether or not to use condoms, according to new research from Oregon State University.

To what extent are condoms responsible for erection difficulties?

August 18, 2015
Research indicates that the use of condoms may cause some men to experience erection difficulties. However, in a study of 479 heterosexual men who used condoms and were 18 to 24 years old, those who reported condom-associated ...

Back on the market—understanding condom use in the over-50s

April 14, 2016
Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in the over-50 age group and, in fact, could surpass the infection rates of younger people, says a QUT researcher investigating the low use of condoms in this age group.

HIV still a health concern in Canada, study says

June 6, 2011
Every eight hours, a Canadian contracts HIV.

CDC offers guidelines for schools' sex education topics

January 18, 2016
The federal Centers for Disease Control has identified 16 topics which it says should be included in sex education classes offered to high school students in the U.S. Fewer than half of high schools and only a fifth of middle ...

Recommended for you

New exercise guidelines: Move more, sit less, start younger

November 12, 2018
Move more, sit less and get kids active as young as age 3, say new federal guidelines that stress that any amount and any type of exercise helps health.

Some activity fine for kids recovering from concussions, docs say

November 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Children and teens who suffer a sports-related concussion should reduce, but not eliminate, physical and mental activity in the days after their injury, an American Academy of Pediatrics report says.

Yelp reviews reveal strengths and weaknesses of emergency departments and urgent care

November 9, 2018
Yelp reviews reveal that emergency departments are viewed as being higher quality but lacking in service as compared to urgent care centers, which patients rate the opposite, according to a new study from researchers in the ...

A look at how colds and chronic disease affect DNA expression

November 8, 2018
We're all born with a DNA sequence that encodes (in the form of genes) the very traits that make us, us—eye color, height, and even personality. We think of those genes as unchanging, but in reality, the way they are expressed, ...

Patients with untreated hearing loss incur higher health care costs over time

November 8, 2018
Older adults with untreated hearing loss incur substantially higher total health care costs compared to those who don't have hearing loss—an average of 46 percent, totaling $22,434 per person over a decade, according to ...

Lifespan is increasing in people who live to 65

November 7, 2018
Stanford biologist Shripad Tuljapurkar had assumed humans were approaching the limit to their longevity – that's what previous research had suggested – but what he observed in 50 years of lifespan data was more optimistic ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.