Big Day Out studies: Sex, Drugs, and Rock'n'Roll

Sexually transmitted infections (STI) are on the rise among young Victorians. These infections are spread by unprotected sexual contact. In January 2014, we went to Melbourne’s Big Day Out (an annual music festival) for the 10th consecutive year to investigate this.

Since 2005, we have surveyed over 12,000 people aged between 16 and 29 years of age about sexual risk behaviour and drug use. Questions have covered participant’s sexual histories, condom use, knowledge and perceptions of STIs, and STI testing histories. We ask about alcohol and other drug use, and other risks and behaviours such as diet and exercise, contact with police, and smoking. We have learnt a great deal about the types and prevalences of risk behaviours among young people from these surveys, and can monitor changes in these over time.

The Big Day Out festival also gives us an excellent opportunity to inform this population group about sexual health and behaviour that may place them at risk of sexually transmitted infections. Showbags containing safer sex and other harm reduction information are distributed to survey participants and other Big Day Out patrons.

The Big Day Out surveys have also been used as a platform for other studies. In 2006, the survey was used to recruit people to a trial of SMS and email messages as an intervention to reduce STI risk behaviours and increase STI testing. In 2008, the survey was used as a baseline measure in a study to promote sexual health by SMS to young people. The Big Day Out surveys have also provided an opportunity to evaluate health promotion campaigns and policies, such as the Victorian Government’s “You Never Know Who You’ll Meet” campaign, and the new Australian alcohol guidelines.

Since 2015, the Sex, Drugs, and Rock‘n’Roll surveys have been completed online.

To see results from previous Big Day Out studies click on the links on the right:

Contact Details

For any general enquiries relating to this project, please contact:

Doctor Megan SC Lim

Deputy Program Director, Behaviours and Health Risks; Preventive Health Research Fellow