Research and writing about STI knowledge

Working with Dr. Alyssa Lederer over the past several weeks has been an incredible opportunity to expand my research skills and explore sexuality health education issues. Our primary project is conducting qualitative research on STI knowledge of college students. Alyssa previously designed an instrument to assess students’ understanding of critical sexuality health information before and after viewing an educational program. A central question of the post evaluation asked about new information students learned from the intervention. The uniqueness of our research stems from the qualitative research design. While the pre and post-test format provides quantitative data about particular items, the open-ended question allows students to delineate information they explicitly learned as a result of the program. I have spent the past few weeks categorizing the data to essentially quantify a qualitative measure.

I am amazed at how much I have learned so far this summer! In addition to learning a new data assessment technique, I have further developed my research presentation skills by refining literature review searches and understanding the somewhat formulaic nature of manuscript writing. I have identified partner sex communication scales that will contribute to the National College Health Assessment survey. While I enjoy the autonomy of the position, I appreciate my weekly meetings with Alyssa to deliberate over details of the research process and discuss interesting findings.

As a rising senior, the end of college is bittersweetly approaching. While my desire to become a physician has not wavered, I hope to explore the health field in the areas of health education and advocacy prior to diving into the medical area. Conducting research on gaps in sexuality health education and possible adverse implications has solidified my resolution to alleviate structural inadequacies in the health field. I was shocked at how deficient my sexual health knowledge (as well as many of the participants) was prior to working on this project. I hope to work with other reproductive health and rights interns to expose the Tulane community to the key issues we are working on.

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