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Sexual health promotion for young people delivered via digital media: a scoping review

Bailey, J; Mann, S; Wayal, S; Hunter, R; Free, C; Abraham, C; Murray, E; (2015) Sexual health promotion for young people delivered via digital media: a scoping review. Public Health Research , 3 (13) pp. 1-119. 10.3310/phr03130. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Young people are at risk of poor sexual health and are, therefore, in need of comprehensive, effective sexual health education. Young people are confident and constant users of digital technology, such as the internet and mobile phones, and there are many innovative possibilities for sexual health education involving these technologies. Objectives: To summarise evidence on effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and mechanism of action of interactive digital interventions (IDIs) for sexual health; optimal practice for intervention development; contexts for successful implementation; research methods for digital intervention evaluation; and the future potential of sexual health promotion via digital media. Design: Literature review of evidence on digital interventions for sexual health for young people, integrating the findings with the views of young people, parents and experts in digital media/sexual health. IDIs are defined as digital media programmes that provide health information and tailored decision support, behaviour-change support and/or emotional support. We focus on sexual well-being for young people aged 13–24 years in the UK. Results: There are many imaginative IDIs for sexual health promotion, but few interventions address issues that are important to young people, such as sexual pleasure and relationships. It is vital to collaborate with young people and to use Behaviour-Change Theory in designing interventions. We located 19 randomised controlled trials of IDIs for sexual health promotion for young people, finding a moderate effect on sexual health knowledge [standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.54, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.17 to 0.92], a small effect on confidence (self-efficacy) (SMD 0.11, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.20) and a positive effect on sexual behaviour (odds ratio 1.28, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.61), but no significant effects on safer sex intention or biological outcomes. One study suggests that IDIs may be as good as face-to-face interventions for sexual health knowledge and safer sex intention. There are no existing data on the cost-effectiveness of IDIs for sexual health promotion. The impact of an IDI will be determined by the proportion of the target population reached, intervention efficacy, adoption in a setting, how well it is delivered and maintenance/sustainability. All of these elements must be addressed for IDIs to be successful. More collaboration is needed to capitalise on the knowledge of users and stakeholders, the design and software skills of the commercial sector and the theoretical expertise and evaluation skills of academia. Conclusions: IDIs are effective for knowledge acquisition and sexual behaviour, and could usefully contribute to sexual health education in schools, in clinic settings and online; however, there are obstacles to overcome, such as access to information technology and ensuring the quality and safety of interventions.

Type: Article
Title: Sexual health promotion for young people delivered via digital media: a scoping review
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3310/phr03130
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3310/phr03130
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Primary Care and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1477010
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