young adults; health disparities; propensity score; chlamydia; trichomonas; educational status.


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Epidemiology


Background: Community colleges enable youth from economically disadvantaged and minority populations to access college and may enable social mobility including improved health outcomes. However, educational health disparities studies rarely assess the health outcomes for community college graduates.

Methods: Chlamydia and trichomonas prevalence were assessed with nucleic acid based tests in a nationally representative sample of 6233 high school graduates (ages 18–25) from five educational levels: young adults without post-secondary credentials who were not enrolled in college, community college students, 4-year college students, associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degree. To reduce confounding between educational attainment and STI status, we used full matching to balance on 22 measures of demographics, socioeconomic status, educational factors, and sexual risk-taking. Estimates of associations between educational attainment and STI status were obtained from multivariate regression in the full (n=6233) and matched (n=1655) samples.

Results:Four-year college students (adjusted incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 0.41, 95% CI [0.27, 0.61], p

Conclusions: Community college students come from populations with greater health risks than 4-year college students, but community college graduation may reduce the likelihood of chlamydia infection. STI interventions can meet the needs of young adults who access college through community college by partnering with community college health clinics to encourage continued STI prevention, testing, and treatment after the intervention ends. Public health studies that use inclusive educational attainment measures that incorporate sub-baccalaureate credentials will better capture health disparities.