Young people's and their health: Research to inform the development of a specific health micro-site
Summary of findings
Attitudes and behaviours
- Factors why these young people put themselves at risk of pregnancy and STIs are numerous, and included boredom, low expectations, sexual desire, lack of parental restriction, boredom etc.
- Poor knowledge of sexual health appears less of an influence than the above. Thus, changing attitudes and behaviours will require social and cultural change, not just information.
Knowledge of sexual health
- Most picked up their knowledge of sex and sexual health from friends and older siblings.
- Knowledge varied widely, often according to age.
- Myths abound; e.g. ‘safe’ times to have sex.
- Most knew the basic facts, though some believed (or chose to believe) that if a girl was on the pill then they would be safe from STIs.
A marketing campaign about sexual health
- Sex and sexual health is a strongly interesting subject to this group of people, and so a campaign on this theme should catch their attention, at least initially.
- The extent to which it will motivate them to text SAM, of visit the micro-site, will depend on issues such as:
- how motivated they are
- literacy levels
- whether they have a specific problem (e.g. an STI / suspected pregnancy).
- relevance of the campaign
- how easy it is to text SAM / NHS,. Etc.
- Response to the text SAM service was polarised. Some older teenagers did not trust it, whilst younger found it more appealing, believing that its promise that it would be convenient, private and confidential. Some had limited credit on their phones.
- The research suggested guidance on making the SAM service as clear and effective as possible (e.g. make texts free).
- Text NHS appeared to have more appeal, as it was trusted.
- Of the posters shown Chlamydia Chain, Fact / Fiction and Myth / Reality appeared to have the greatest potential.
- Further executional guidance was provided by the research.
The Humber micro-site
- Most approved of the idea of having a micro-site tailored to young people from Humberside, imagining it more relevant, and including a directory of local services.
- The mocked-up home page was general found colourful and appealing, and also relevant. Additional topics were suggested, e.g. drugs, relationships, bullying.
- It should be noted that some did not habitually use the Web to search for information.
The research objectives were to explore young people’s reactions to:
- the concept of a micro-side aimed specifically at people in Humberside
- a sexual health poster encouraging them to ‘Text SAM’ or access the micro-site directly
- the relative effectiveness of a range of posters in terms of impact, appeal, relevance, etc.
- the appeal and relevance of a screenshot from the micro-site.
To provide context, young people’s attitudes to sexual health and health in general were briefly explored.
Rates of teenage pregnancy and termination in Humberside are high versus the rest of the country, as are incidence of smoking and binge drinking.
NHS Choices aim to help improve the nations’ health. One feature is a website which people nationwide can access for advice and support in areas such as quitting smoking, alcohol misuse, and sex and relationships.
In addition to the main site, NHS Choices is developing a micro-site aimed specifically at young people in Humberside. It will feature content relevant to the health behaviours of local teenagers. It aims to encourage them to think about their health, access local health and support services, visit the main NHS Choices site and find out about other aspects of health.
NHS Choices is developing a marketing campaign to promote the micro-site, focusing on sexual health, which aims to engage with the young people using a variety of means (Bluetooth, text, posters, leaflets, a helpline, referrals from health professionals).
Qualitative research was commissioned to help inform development of the marketing campaign.
Research to explore the attitudes of (at risk) young people in Humberside to sexual / general health, and to the concept of a micro-site aimed specifically at them. Also, to inform the development of a marketing campaign to promote the site.
Young people were aged 14-21
- Individual interviews
- Paired interviews (two friends of the same sex, interviewed together)
- Triads (as above, but three friends)
- All lasting 60 minutes, and conducted face-to-face with young people in Humberside.
- young people appearing at risk of poor sexual / general health due to current attitudes & lifestyles
- young people who had accessed sexual health clinics
- young women who had already conceived unintentionally and / or at an early age.
- Interviews with health professionals (GPs, Practice Nurses, staff at a sexual health clinic)
Data collection methodology
37 young people were interviewed
- 24 female / 13 male
6 health professionals were interviewed:
- 2 GPs
- 2 Practice nurses
- 2 Staff at a sexual health clinic
Hull, Scunthorpe and Grimsby, and rural areas around these places
8th-17th October 2007