Table of contents

User Views

Background papers: Lifestyle and wider determinants :: Sexual health :: User Views

A programme of quantitative and qualitative primary research was conducted in April 2014 with over 300 respondents.

Key messages

Sexual health promotion and education; it was widely reported that the internet would be used as the primary source of additional information. 'Official' sites from recognised, trusted health bodies, such as NHS Choices, were used.

A broad cross-section of qualitative participants and almost all the stakeholders expressed concern that there was insufficient promotion of the local sexual health services. Students indicated that they would like campaigns based on local data.

Attitudes, motivators and barriers towards accessing services:

• The surveys revealed that people were most likely to attend services if they had genital discomfort or if their partner had an STI.
• There were several emotional barriers that people said would deter them from attending services. The most common of these was anxiety about confidentiality. People in the focus group explained that they were worried that they would be 'spotted' walking in/out of a clinic or sitting in the waiting room. Some said they would overcome this by attending a clinic in another locality. Having sexual health services placed alongside other health services was seen to be one way of avoiding the 'embarrassment' of being seen using the service.
• A few people also spoke very strongly, stating that they would feel anxious and put off attending because they wouldn't know what was expected of them. The most commonly noted practical barrier was the lack of evening or weekend opening hours.

In response to the findings of the survey, the Integrated Sexual Health Service will provide services in the evenings and also on Saturday mornings. Webpages will be developed that will give service users an indication of what happens at the clinic and how testing is performed. Respondents wanted a degree of choice over the clinician they saw.

Of those surveyed 40% had sought information and support for sexual health issues from their GP. This was the most commonly used health service. Seventeen per cent had visited the chemist, 17% the CaSH service and 14% the Medway Maritime Hospital GUM service.

A smaller quantitative survey took place in youth settings in early 2015 that gave insight where the young people surveyed would prefer to attend services to improve their sexual health. Youth settings were popular for prevention and regular screening but for most other issues young people would prefer to access a Sexual Health Clinic.

Medway Sexual Health Network (MSHN) is open to all professional or voluntary organisations and is a forum to disseminate information and receive feedback from partner agencies in relation to sexual health. MSHN actively contributed to the writing of the integrated sexual health service specification.