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Publication Detail
Sexual health promotion for young people delivered via digital media: a scoping review
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Article
  • Authors:
    Bailey J, Mann S, Wayal S, Hunter R, Free C, Abraham C, Murray E
  • Publisher:
    National Institute for Health Research
  • Publication date:
    01/11/2015
  • Pagination:
    1, 120
  • Journal:
    Public Health Research
  • Volume:
    3
  • Issue:
    13
  • Status:
    Published online
  • Print ISSN:
    2050-4381
  • Language:
    en
Abstract
BackgroundYoung 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.ObjectivesTo 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.DesignLiterature 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.ResultsThere 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.ConclusionsIDIs 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.Future workMore evidence is needed on the best designs for interventions (e.g. choice of behaviour-change mechanisms and interactive features) and the best models of delivery (e.g. setting, modes of delivery, methods of facilitation and support for engagement) to improve sexual behaviour, biological outcomes and sexual well-being in a cost-effective way.FundingThe National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research programme.
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