Identifying factors related to risky sexual behaviour may contribute to preventive and interventional approaches to reduce negative mental health outcomes among young women. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between psychological distress and risky sexual behaviours in females aged 16–25 years in Victoria, Australia.
Data were extracted from the Young Female Health Initiative (YFHI), a study in which participants were recruited via advertisements on Facebook. Logistic regression was used to assess associations between psychological distress, as measured by the Kessler 10 (K10) Psychological Distress Scale, and risky sexual behaviours.
Data were available from 200 sexually active participants and 40 non-sexually active participants. We found that the K10 score was independently associated with sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (odds ratio: 1.7; 95% confidence intervals: 1.2, 2.7; P = 0.006).
Although data were collected from a small sample of young women, we found that those with underlying psychological distress may adopt risky sexual behaviours, especially if concomitantly drinking alcohol or taking drugs.