Research type 
Year of report 

Summary of findings


The research found that:

  • Spontaneous awareness of advertising/publicity relating to sexual health/STIs increased significantly to 49%. A further 11% awareness was elicited following prompting with possible sources.
  • Awareness was higher amongst those listening to commercial radio and amongst those reading The Sun, The Star and News of the World compared to the sample as a whole.
  • Recognition of any campaign materials increased from 31% at Wave 2 to 50% at Wave 3, with significant increase in recognition of both radio and press/poster, the latter driven by the Valentines press executions.
  • The Valentines media overall achieved 37% recognition, compared to 40% for the General Campaign; 13% of respondents who recognised the Valentines press executions did not recognise any other executions.
  • Campaign takeout again focussed on “safe sex” but there were significant increases in mentions of “danger/risk” and specifically “STIs”. The latter was strongly communicated by the Valentines press executions.
  • Communication of a “call to action” also increased, from 3% at Wave 2 to 11% at Wave 3.
  • There have been some significant shifts in attitudes to STIs since the campaign commenced – in particular in terms of potential risk (“the risk of getting an STI has increased” - +11%) and in terms of protection (“it doesn’t matter how many partners someone has as long as they’re careful” - +9%).
  • These changes in attitude have yet to be consolidated in behavioural change but results at Wave 3 showed the campaign was certainly beginning to take effect.
  • Overall, at all three waves the majority of respondents (61% Wave 1, 63% Wave 2, 68% Wave 3) claimed to know “a lot or a fair amount” about STIs and there was a general improvement over time. More respondents at all three waves (75% Wave 1, 78% Wave 2, 79% Wave 3) claimed to know “a lot or fair amount” about protecting themselves from STIs. This measure too has improved over time

Research objectives


In May 2002, a programme 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 3 an additional objective was introduced, which was:

  • to evaluate awareness and impact of the “Valentine’s Day” advertising



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.

This study measures the effectiveness of Wave 3 of the campaign.

Research participants


This study spoke to sexually active adults aged 16-30, with a boost of students living in university accommodation

Audience Summary





General population


  • 18-21
  • 22-25
  • 26-30

Social Class


Not part of quota selection process


Data collection methodology


Other data collection methodology

  • Interviews were conducted amongst 18-30 year olds across England. Interviewing was conducted using CASI (Computer Assisted Self Interviewing) face-to-face and in-home. Fieldwork was conducted by TNS Field Ltd
  • The sample at the three waves consisted of a main sample, representative of the 18-30 year old population, and a separate “boost” sample of students living in university managed accommodation.
  • 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 (18-21, 22-25, and 26-30) 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 18-30 population.
  • For the sample of students living in university-managed accommodation, university campuses were chosen in order to spread sampling as evenly as possible across the country. A subset of the universities sampled at Wave 1 was sampled at Wave 2 and Wave 3 to ensure sample matching.
  • To eliminate any bias resulting from extra interviews with students and to correct for minor demographic imbalances in the achieved sample, the data was weighted at analysis to known population statistics

Sample size

  • 453 in home interviews +
  • 192 student interviews (54 living in student accommodation.)

Detailed region



Fieldwork dates


13 Feb – 3 March 2004

Agree to publish



Research agency

TNS consumer

COI Number


Report format