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The University of Southampton

Research project: Safe4Play: Innovative educational intervention for safer sexual and reproductive health

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The increase in risky sexual behaviours among young people has sparked urgency and has become an area of interest for global public health researchers aiming to find innovative approaches to promote better sexual health.  

Many people feel less vulnerable to STIs based on their belief that they can ascertain whether a potential partner is likely to be infected or not on the basis of the way that they look or some other superficial characteristic. The challenge is to find the best way to tackle this problem and to ascertain what tools could be further developed to assist this.

Digital educational interventions and serious games could be an effective sex education method as this generation is very familiar with this technology. Safe4Play will be a big step toward the design of tailored and relevant sex education interventions that will promote active learning rather than passive one-way learning. Two-way, interactive and tailored education is a more promising form of education compared to the traditional mode of one-way passive education, as early literature evidence suggests.

How much will this form of education benefit sex education and better protect people from contracting STIs? These questions will be addressed by Safe4Play, a programme that aims to include all people irrespective of background, ethnicity and age. The educational material will be adapted to the users’ needs and delivered via different means, such as text, simulations, games, graphs and e- learning tutorials. Better understanding of the risks involved in sexual behaviours and interactions with partners could potentially have a big impact on behaviour and future preventive actions.

According to the Health Belief Model, understanding the consequences of a certain action can have a positive impact on protection against STIs. As a result, there may be a reduction in STI rates and unplanned pregnancies in the EU after the introduction of Safe4Play. To maximise the project’s impact, special attention will be paid to the dissemination of its achievements, objectives and activities – combined with intensive communication with various target groups, alongside the broader aim to increase public awareness. All partners are committed to maximize the project outcomes and benefits and to reach the widest possible audiences.

Related research groups

Centre for Clinical and Community Applications of Health Psychology (CCCAHP)
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