Sex and Contraception Among College and Graduate Students During COVID-19 (2020-2021)

This project team sought to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic had provoked changes in sexual health, sexual activity and use and access to contraceptives among college and graduate students. The team also assessed how many two- and four-year schools across the nation were prepared to offer their students telemedicine services given the new socially distanced environment.

The team divided into three subteams, including a survey team, a website team and an outreach team.

The survey team designed and conducted a survey of North Carolina college and graduate students about sexual health and contraceptive access. Over the course of nine days, team members displayed advertisements 45,054 times (ie., impressions), wihch were viewed by 28,719 Instagram users (ie., reach), and clicked by 2,542 users (ie., unique link clicks). 996 of 1,002 eligible participants completed the survey for a 99.4% completion rate. They found that:

  • Students reported continued access to their preferred contraception, including through telehealth and through student health
  • Students reported an increase in the frequency of using online/video platforms for dating and sex
  • Students continued to have in-person sexual encounters
  • Majority of respondents female-identifying and from Duke, UNC-CH and NCSU
  • Majority of students felt that their peers were underestimating the risks of COVID-19

The website team used content analysis methodology to analyze availability of student health centers and telehealth at higher education institutions across the U.S. and found that only 36.8% (n=131) of the total sample (n=364) offers student telehealth services. 

The outreach team utilized data collected from both the survey team and website team to partner with Duke student health and neighboring schools to share results. The team met with Duke Wellness and representatives from North Carolina State University campus health and the University of North Carolina campus health.


Fall 2020 – Spring 2021

Team Outputs

Adam Hollowell, Jonas Swartz, Evan Myers, Al Erkanli, Clarice Hu, Andrew Shin, Keisha Bentley-Edwards. 2022. Telemedicine services in higher education: a review of college and university websites. Journal of American College Health.

Sexual Health During a Pandemic (2021 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase)

Sex and Contraception Among College and Graduate Students During COVID-19 (poster by Emily Chen, Lauren Holt, Sydney Morrow, Grace O'Leary, Rachel Proudman, Emily Sen, Andrew Shin and Lucy Zheng; winner, Bass Connections Poster Competition, Judges’ Selection)

Adam Hollowell, Jonas J. Swartz, Rachel Proudman. 2021. Telemedicine access and higher educational attainment. Journal of American College Health.

Lauren Holt, Adam Hollowell, Tracy Truong, Keisha Bentley-Edwards, Evan Myers, Alaattin Erkanli, Emily L. Chen, Jonas Swartz. 2023. Reported Changes in Romantic and Sexual Behavior Among College and Graduate Students During COVID-19. Journal of American College Health.

This Team in the News

How to Have Safe Sex in a Pandemic

A Survey on Sex: Bass Connections Team to Look at How COVID-19 Has Changed College Sexual Behavior 

Sociologist Says College Hookup Culture is 'Incompatible' with Preventing Coronavirus

Two students with masks.

Team Leaders

  • Keisha Bentley-Edwards, School of Medicine-Medicine: General Internal Medicine
  • Adam Hollowell, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Evan Myers, School of Medicine-Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Jonas Swartz, School of Medicine-Obstetrics and Gynecology

/graduate Team Members

  • Emily Chen, Medicine MD Fourth Year
  • Lauren Holt, Nursing-PHD
  • Lisa Lane, Masters of Public Policy
  • Emily Sen, Bioethics and Sci Policy - AM

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Clarice Hu, Biology (BS)
  • Sydney Morrow, Neuroscience (AB)
  • Grace O'Leary, Statistical Science (BS)
  • Rachel Proudman, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Andrew Shin, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Lucy Zheng, Biology (BS)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Alaattin Erkanli, School of Medicine-Biostatistics and Bioinformatics

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Duke Wellness
  • NCSU Campus Health
  • UNC-Chapel Hill Campus Health