Multifaceted Plan Supporting Sexual Health in Young Adults at University

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Zachary C. Byfield, MPhil (Health)
Leah East, PhD
School of Health, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia


Young adults at university have a number of risk factors for sexual injury (Kirby Institute, 2017; World Health Organization, 2016; World Health Organization, 2017). Due to the stigma that still presents regarding the issues of sexual health these young adults are in a vulnerable position (East, Jackson, O’Brien, & Peters, 2012). The purpose of this project was to develop and implement strategies to promote the formation of positive connections among young adults attending university and a component of a wider health promotion approach aimed at supporting the overall health of university students. The approach is based on addressing two main components of positive connections being 1) healthy relationship; and 2) healthy sexual identity.


The two issues were address using a multidisciplinary and multifaceted approach.

Healthy relationships: addressing issues raised by the Australian Human Rights Commission (2017) Change the Course Report as well as ongoing health promotion strategies aimed at developing the concept of consent amongst the student population.

Healthy sexual identity: as well as an increased health promotion plan aiming at decreasing stigma and raising awareness a number of strategies have been implemented to promote sexual health such as: increased frequency of STI screening to be in line with national recommendations, promotion of Post exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) services for targeted individuals, and investigation into self-management of urine testing for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia (World Health Organization, 2016).


Healthy relationships and sexual identity is an essential component of the healthy young adult (Bungay, Handlovsky, Phillips, & Prescott, 2017). Despite this, sexual health remains a topic of some stigma for individuals and even healthcare professionals. Effective promotion of health relationships and sexual identity requires a multifaceted approach (Bungay, Masaro, & Gilbert, 2014). Adequately supporting these components in the formative years of a young adult’s development will have positive associations for the individual throughout their lifespan.


Following completed implementation of these strategies a study will commence aimed at evaluation of the processes and further development. The research study will evaluate the two components of the health promotion intervention through a mixed methods study considering the quantitative data of incidence and prevalence of STIs within the population over a three year period and qualitative data of follow up interviews to investigate understanding and experiences following the implementation process.