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Research project: Sexuality education and sexual health literacy

Currently Active: 

With increased globalisation people’s knowledge and attitudes to sex and sexuality are constructed and shaped at a variety of levels and from a range of sources. Similarly, sexual health information resources are numerous and diverse with some of the information received being accurate and some less so. The key role of sex and relationships education is to ensure that people’s knowledge is complete, that misinformation and beliefs are dispelled, that suitable skills are developed and that appropriate culturally sensitive values are clarified.

Past and present projects exploring the delivery of sexuality education and sexual health literacy:

Using serious games simulations to influence sexual behaviour

The main aim of this PhD study is to investigate the use of serious games simulations for public health issues, and, in particular, to explore the use of simulations to access and influence attitudes to sexual behaviour. Simulation models can give young people the potential to engage with a simulated world of sexual interactions to help better understand the ramifications of sexual risk-taking behaviours.

PhD Studentship – Anastasia Eleftheriou

Supervisors - Professor Seth Bullock, Professor Cynthia Graham, Professor Roger Ingham

Funding - Institute for Complex Systems Simulation & EPSRC

Status – Currently active

Measuring alcohol and sexual health literacy in secondary schools

This study aims to develop a realistic instrument for measuring the skill set underpinning adolescent health literacy. The World Health Organisation recognizes the vital importance of health literacy among teenagers as future citizens, and the eventual aim of this project is to apply the instrument in English secondary school situations to inform curriculum development and the role of school health professionals. The focus is on establishing a better understanding of adolescent health literacy around alcohol and sexual health in schools, as an important starting point for developing an authentic instrument for measuring health literacy in the future in these areas and more widely. Alcohol and sexual health in young people are key public health issues and whilst there have been some favourable trends in both in the UK, there is still concern about levels of alcohol misuse and rates of sexually transmitted infection and unintended pregnancies.

PhD Studentship – Pavithra Premkumar

Supervisors – Dr Marcus GraceProfessor Paul Roderick, Professor Cynthia Graham, Professor Don Nutbeam

Status – Currently active

Feasibility study of the Kinsey Institute Homework Intervention (KIHIS-UK) to promote correct and consistent condom use

The objectives of the KIHIS-UK study include adapting a condom promotion programme which has been developed and tested in the US for use among young men in the UK. The US programme gives out "condom kits" (containing different condoms and lubricants) asks men to try out the condoms at home by themselves by completing various homework exercises. As they test each condom they are asked to think about their own pleasure and which condoms they like best.

The aim of the programme is for men to improve their condom skills by 1) finding the "right/best" types of condoms and lubricants, 2) testing techniques of applying them, and 3) by practicing with them in no pressure situations (on their own).

In collaboration with our colleagues at the Centre for Technology Enabled Health Research, Coventry University, we are exploring whether the idea can be adapted for use with men in the UK to improve their skills in applying condoms and their pleasure in using them.

Funding – MRC-PHIND

Status – Currently active

E-KIHIS: design and evaluation of an online version of the Kinsey Institute Homework Intervention (KIHIS) programme to enhance male condom use

Supervisors: Professor Cynthia Graham

Status – Currently active

Early sexual socialisation and sexuality education; an exploration of parental perspectives

The family plays a powerful role in the sexual socialisation of children and young people. There is evidence that there is a link between parental openness and young people’s sexual safety. Current advice is to start openly talking to children about sexual matters as young as possible; anecdotally, parental justifications for not doing so include embarrassment, lack of knowledge and to protect childhood ‘innocence’. This study aimed to explore how parents react to inquisitive questioning and exploration by children aged 4-7, and to develop a better understanding of the barriers and opportunities for improved sexuality communication between ‘adults’ and children.

Funding - The Leverhulme Trust

The delivery of school based SRE in Tanzania

Despite evidence that illustrates the benefits of school-based SRE in protecting young people against HIV/AIDS and other sexual health problems, its systematic and widespread implementation is lacking in Tanzanian schools. This study explored the barriers to the implementation of SRE in schools and the controversies regarding what should be taught in the SRE curriculum.

Factors that affect the delivery of sex education in schools

This project was developed to explore the cultural, attitudinal and other factors that affect the content and delivery of sex and sexuality education in schools through studies conducted with parents, teachers and governors. Through the systematic collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from samples of parents, teachers and governors, those charged with the responsibility of devising services and education programmes will have a much stronger awareness of what other key players find acceptable and unacceptable, and will be able to plan their provision with greater levels of confidence.

Funding - Wessex RHA

Related research groups

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

Conferences and events associated with this project:

The IVth Biennial International Sex and Relationships Education Conference

International Perspectives on The ABC of Sex and Relationships Education: Approaches, Benefits and Constraints



Book Chapters


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