MONDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- College students use a number of strategies to prevent their female friends from engaging in risky sexual behavior after a night of heavy drinking, new research suggests.

Researchers interviewed 141 U.S. college students and found that three-quarters of them said they would persuade a female friend not to go home with a new male acquaintance or that they would make sure she arrived home safely.

The participants listed three ways they would attempt to ensure the safety of a female friend:

  • They would remind their friend about the potential negative social and health consequences, such as getting pregnant, developing a bad reputation, and regretting their decision the next day.
  • They would distract or trick their friend by taking them to get food, or putting them in a cab to go home.
  • They would directly confront their friend, telling them that they need to leave, or if necessary, physically removing them from the situation.

But the likelihood of students taking these actions depend on how well they know the female friend and the male acquaintance. Students are more likely to step in and protect a friend in what they deem a risky situation, but are more willing to let a female friend go home with a male acquaintance if both they and their friends know him.

"Our research suggests that the claim that college students routinely engage in risky sexual behavior while intoxicated may be exaggerated," Linda C. Lederman, a professor of communication at Arizona State University, said in a university news release.

The study was published in the July issue of the journal Communication Education.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about health and safety for college students.