Seeking sexual health information? Professionals’ novel experiences of the barriers that prevent female adolescents seeking sexual health information

Kerry McKellar, Elizabeth Sillence, Linda Little, Michael Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)
112 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Objective
Sexual health professionals are key stakeholders in implementing sexual health intervention programmes, yet their views are largely absent from the literature. Sexual health professionals provide a unique perspective on teen sexual health issues as they engage in confidential discussions with a wide range of teenagers. This study aimed to provide an in-depth exploration of professionals’ perceptions of teenagers’ sexual health information seeking practices and barriers. Furthermore, the research provided a unique re-examination of key predictors of risky sexual behaviours, which have been highlighted by previous research.

Methods
Nine semi-structured interviews were undertaken with sexual health professionals to explore their perceptions of teenagers’ sexual health information seeking practises and barriers. Subsequently the professionals rank ordered the 57 factors identified in previous research in terms of their perceived importance in predicting risky sexual behaviours.

Results
Four themes emerged: “society and media”; “environment and family”; “peer influences”; and “the self”. The rank order task confirmed that 33 of the 57 factors were perceived as highly important by sexual health professionals.

Conclusion
Society, peers, environment and family are perceived as barriers to teenagers seeking reliable sexual health information, but these are dependent on the individual person. An individual with higher self-esteem is more confident in seeking sexual health information and applying this knowledge appropriately. Self-esteem was also identified as a key perceived predictor of risky sexual behaviours. Therefore, there is scope for intervention programmes targeting self-esteem and knowledge, so teenagers have the confidence to seek out sexual health information and to make their own informed sexual health decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20160118
JournalInternational Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jul 2017

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