Sociodemographic characteristics and health risk behaviours among students of a tertiary institution in south western Nigeria.Afr J Med Med Sci. 2007 Jun; 36(2):129-36.AJ
The identification of early risk factors among undergraduate students that impact on health, both mental and physical is a primary focus of this survey. This is more so since people suffering from an illness may not be currently engaging in any health risk behaviours but might have engaged in such behaviours before they developed the illness condition. Therefore the identification of health risk behaviours among this group of people would permit a better understanding of localized patterns of health risk behaviours as well as help to target intervention activities towards this particular group of people.The study is based upon data obtained from a cross-sectional survey of students in a tertiary institution in South Western Nigeria. Participants voluntarily and anonymously completed a baseline semistructured questionnaire which elicited information on demographic information, sexual behaviours and substance use among others. Of the 368 respondents, majority 225 (60.9%) are in the age group of 20-24 years. A total of 152 (41.3%) are either currently or have previously indulged in heavy drinking of alcohol and a statistically significant association (p<0.05) was found between the use of alcohol and having multiple sexual partners and use of commercial sex workers. Ninety-four (25.5%) and 52 (14.1%) are currently smoking or have smoked cigarette and marijuana before respectively; while 56 (15.2%) are currently using or have before used narcotic drugs. The relationship between hard drug use and non use of condom was statistically significant (p<0.05). Ninety-two (25.0%) have more than one sexual partners at the same given period; the male respondents indulged more in having multiple partners than the female and the result was statistically significant (p<0.05). As many as 155 (47.8%) of the 324 (88.0% of the respondents) sexually active respondents had never used condom during sexual intercourse. Also 88 (27.1%) of this group of the respondents have had sexual relationship with commercial sex workers (CSW) at one time or the other. Condom use was low among the sexually active respondents. Only 29.3% of the respondents always use condom when having any sexual relationship. This study has shown that students in this survey indulge in health risk behaviours such as "unsafe sexual practices", alcohol, cigarette smoking and other substance use. The males are more involved in having multiplicity of sexual partners than their female counterpart. The study also revealed a significant association between the use of alcohol and in having multiple sexual partners. Comprehensive health education and intervention programs are needed to influence positive behavioural change among this group of students and this will require working in partnership with schools authorities and other local community groups.