I did it – I have now blogged about all of our published and in press papers from the past three years, posting weekly about our research papers for about three months. So, this post is the last one about a specific paper until we get another paper published (and there are currently four submitted, two with R&R’s, so fingers crossed it won’t be too long).
In my continued efforts to be fully transparent, particularly for the benefit of junior scholars, this paper took a while to publish. I’ve written before about publishing perseverance and the time it took us 8 years and 4 rejections to get a paper published.
I don’t think that the paper I’m writing about today had QUITE as long a road to publication. Well, let me go look up the details. So, it looks like I proposed this paper about 7 years ago, had a draft of the intro and methods 4 years ago, added the results about 3 years ago, and had a full draft over 2 years ago. And it looks like I first submitted it only over a year ago, and that it was only rejected from one journal (somehow, my memory is of more rejections – funny). So I guess the delay was much more in my writing it, than in multiple review processes. I think I remember more rejections because I really saw this paper as a developmental paper and therefore wanted to publish it in a developmental journal, even after the first rejection from a developmental journal. But between submissions I eventually changed my mind and recognized it was a better fit for a sexuality journal, where it found its home.
As with many of our other papers, we approached this paper from a normative developmental framework of sexuality. Our perspective is:
- It is typical, appropriate, and healthy to express interest in and explore sexuality during adolescence and young adulthood
- A healthy framework shifts the focus from identifying risk factors to understanding a range of sexual experiences, some of which (e.g., kissing, touching) do not confer the same physical risks as vaginal and anal sex
- To recognize that individual and contextual factors like gender and relationship status influence and shape sexual experiences
- To acknowledge that sexuality is a developmental phenomenon that changes across adolescence and young adulthood with both age and context
- Despite risks of sexual behavior, sexual behavior also confers benefits to physical, mental, and relationship health
The unique aspects of this paper were that we:
- Examined rates using longitudinal data with frequent assessment – assessing participants every semester for seven semesters. Most work in this area uses cross-sectional data; existing longitudinal data generally have long gaps between assessments, which may fail to capture variability during a time of rapid change
- Considered a range of sexual and contraceptive behaviors in the same sample, rather than simply focusing on vaginal sex and/or condom use
- Considered performing and receiving oral sex separately, given conflicting data on gender differences in rates of oral sex
- Included both condoms and non-condom contraception, to include more female-focused contraceptive behaviors
- Considered time-varying changes in romantic relationship status and their association with sexual and contraceptive behaviors
We found that:
- Likelihood of kissing, touching, performing oral sex, receiving oral sex, and engaging in penetrative sex in the past 3 months increased with time
- Men were more likely to report receiving oral sex and using condoms in the past 3 months than women were
- Students were more likely to report kissing, touching, performing oral sex, receiving oral sex, and penetrative sex in semesters they were in a serious relationship than semester they were not. They were less likely to report using condoms when they were in a serious relationship compared to when they were not.
- There was a three-way interaction for both contraceptive behaviors. Specifically, consistent use of any contraception in the past three months decreased over time more for men in semesters they were not in a relationship than for men in semesters they were, or for women. In addition, condom use decreased for men regardless of relationship status, and for women in semesters they were in a relationship, but not in semesters women were not.
“ Developmental changes in diverse sexual and contraceptive behaviors across college first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on September 25, 2018.”