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Factors associated with risky sexual behaviour: a comparison of British, Spanish and German holidaymakers to the Balearics

Jennifer Downing1, Karen Hughes1, Mark A. Bellis1, Amador Calafat2, Montse Juan2 and Nicole Blay2

Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK. European Institute of Studies on Prevention, Irefrea, Spain.

Jennifer Downing, Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University, 5th floor Kingsway House, Hatton Garden, Liverpool L3 2AJ, UK, tel: +44 151 231 8737, fax: +44 151 231 8020.

Background: Previous studies exploring risk-taking behaviour on holiday are typically limited to single nationalities, confounding comparisons among countries. Here we examine the sexual behaviour of holidaymakers of three nationalities visiting Ibiza and Majorca. Methods: A comparative cross-sectional study design was used focusing on British, Spanish and German holidaymakers in the age range of 16–35 years. Overall, 3003 questionnaires were gathered at airports in Majorca and Ibiza from holidaymakers returning home. Results: Of those surveyed, 71.1% were single (travelling without a current sexual partner) (Majorca, 74.3%; Ibiza, 68.0%). Overall, 34.1% of single holidaymakers had sex on holiday. Amongst single participants, factors associated with having sex on holiday were high levels of drunkenness, being Spanish and holidaying for over 2 weeks. Of those single and having sex on holiday, factors associated with multiple sexual partners were being male and age ≤19 years. Unprotected sex was predicted by being German and holidaying in Majorca, holidaying with members of the opposite sex and using four or more drugs on holiday. All sexual behaviours were predicted by a high number of sexual partners in the previous 12 months. Furthermore, single holidaymakers having sex abroad were more likely to prefer night-time venues facilitating casual sex and excessive alcohol consumption. Conclusions: Casual sex encounters in youth holiday resorts may be commonplace and mediated through substance use. Further focused public health efforts, including in bars/nightclubs, are needed to prevent sexual risk-taking which can increase the likelihood of poor sexual health outcomes and associated factors such as regretted sex.