Sexual health campaign: Evaluation research
Summary of findings
- Spontaneous awareness of advertising and/or publicity relating to sexual health/STIs amongst 18-30 year olds had increased gradually over time. Awareness was similar for the total sample of 16-34 years
- Despite a significant decrease on Wave 3, ‘safe sex advice’ remained the strongest message recalled amongst those spontaneously aware of advertising and/or publicity
- The Horoscope bridging campaign achieved significantly higher levels of recognition than either the Sex Lottery campaign or the Valentines week advertising at Wave 3.
- Overall perceptions of STIs have remained stable over time and the level of agreement with most statements regarding STIs was high.
- Nine in ten respondents claimed contraception was the responsibility of both sexual partners equally and claimed to indeed be using some form of contraception. However, a third of respondents claimed to have partaken in ‘risky’ sexual behaviour in the past 12 months.
- Significantly more teenagers claimed to have partaken in ‘risky’ sexual behaviour, compared with 18-30 year olds and to have had unprotected sex with a new partner in the past 12 months
- Younger respondents (16-25) were more likely than the older age groups (26-34) to use condoms as their usual form of contraception
In May 2002, a programme of tracking research was commissioned to monitor the effectiveness of the Sexual Health campaign in the long term. The key objective of the research was to monitor the effectiveness of the campaign. This broad aim encompasses the following specific goals, to:
- measure awareness and recognition of the communications
- investigate levels of perceived relevance of the messages
- track changes in broad attitudes to sexual behaviour and especially those relating to the specific campaign messages, such as attitudes to using condoms
With regard to the third objective it was acknowledged from the outset that attitudinal and behavioural change was likely to be a long-term rather than a short term achievement of the campaign. At Wave 4 an additional objective was introduced, which was:
- to evaluate awareness and impact of the Horoscope bridging campaign
The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal 2000) provided important insights into the extent of sexual ill health in the UK. It also linked its occurrence with social patterns and sexual behaviours, demonstrating that the wide variability in sexual lifestyles, by age, gender, relationship status and residence within and outside Greater London, are key determinants of the sexual health of individuals and communities in the UK. Importantly, shifts between the results of the Natsal 1990 and Natsal 2000 surveys illuminated an increase in the incidence of STIs nationally. Crucially, they also reflected increased risky sexual behaviour, this being consistent with changing cohabitation patterns. Overall, there was an increase in the reported numbers of heterosexual partners, homosexual partnership, concurrent partnership, heterosexual anal sex and payment for sex, all behaviours associated with increased risk of HIV and STI transmission. Additionally, although the Natsal 2000 survey revealed a greater incidence of condom use, increases in the numbers of sexual partners meant that overall, the proportion of the population practising ‘unsafe sex’ had increased from 1990.
In light of these results, the first National Strategy for Sexual Health and HIV was formulated by the Department of Health in July 2002. It is a strategy which “aims to modernise sexual health and HIV services in England” and to “address the rising prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and of HIV, and to put these in a broader sexual health context”. To spearhead this strategy, the Department of Health launched an advertising-led campaign in November 2002. Broadly, the goals of the campaign were:
- to inform the public about STIs and HIV – their symptoms, seriousness and possible long-terms effects
- to highlight the personal relevance and danger of these sexually transmitted diseases
- to encourage safe sex and behaviours like using condoms amongst the sexually active (de-stigmatise and normalise condom usage)
- ultimately, to reduce the transmission of STIs, HIV and the incidence of unwanted pregnancies.
There were plans for a new Sexual Health campaign in the latter half of 2005. A bridging campaign called ‘Horoscope’ was run from December 2004 to the end of February 2005. The media mix included radio, press and poster executions. A fourth wave of research was conducted following the Horoscope bridging campaign.
This study spoke to sexually active adults aged 16-34, with a boost of teenagers aged 16-17. This was wider spread of ages than the previous 3 waves of the study. It had no boost of students.
Data collection methodology
Other data collection methodology
- A random location sampling approach was used, to ensure that the sample achieved was representative of those aged 16-34 years living in England
- Sample points were selected from the TNS sampling frame. Utilising 1991 Census small area statistics and the Post Office Address File (PAF), TNS has divided the country into 600 areas of equal population. These areas have been built up from over 9,000 postcode sectors. Within each postcode sector, addresses have been combined into blocks of approximately 70 adjacent residential addresses by reference to the geographical centroids of each detailed postal code, and the residential classification on the PAF file.
- Interviewers were issued with address blocks and instructed to contact addresses within it systematically to obtain their target of interviews. Each address contact was recorded. Within the fieldwork period, there was no limit to the number of times an address could be contacted for the study, but three doors were left between addresses where an interview had been achieved.
- For the main sample, quotas were set by sex, age (16-21, 22-25, 26-34 years) working status (full-time employment, full time education or other status) and presence of children under 16 in order to ensure it was representative of the 16-34 population.
- At analysis, the sample was weighted to eliminate any bias resulting from extra interviews with teenagers and to correct for minor demographic imbalances in the achieved sample, the data was weighted at analysis to known population statistics.
- Respondents aged 16-17 (66)
- Respondents aged 18-30 (384)
- Respondents aged 31-34 (86)
- A boost of respondents aged 16-17 (72)
- Total sample = 608
- Random location study to represent young people aged 16-34 in England.
- Sample points were selected from TNS file, which is set up with 600 areas of equal population size.
- Each area has 700 adjacent addresses
28 Feb – 22 March 2005