Research type 
Year of report 

Summary of findings

  • There was considerable, widespread support for a new communications campaign around sexual health.
  • In the short term, sexual health professionals expect (and hope) that a campaign will increase demand on sexual health services. They believe it is vital that funding for these services is increased in order to meet this demand. In particular, they would like to see more use of community and outreach services, and to see these services designed to meet the needs of young people.
  • Opinions vary as to what the campaign’s priorities should be, but there is general agreement that… - Young people should be the primary focus - There needs to be a balance between encouraging safe sex and increasing access to services - Sexual health needs to be normalised, encouraging people to see it as part of health generally - Messages about sexual health should be simple and unambiguous - Primary Care Trusts, Strategic Health Authorities and Regional Government Offices expect to be heavily involved and consulted
  • It was felt that current networks and resources would ensure reasonable roll-out at a local level.
  • Campaign materials are likely to be used in many service settings and the more proactive local areas would organise events and publicity to tie in with the campaign.

The impact of the campaign could be maximised by:

  • Using regional events to launch the campaign and engage stakeholders at both strategic and grassroots level
  • Providing guidance on the aims and objectives of the campaign and ideas about how these might be fulfilled; but also giving local stakeholders the freedom to innovate
  • Allowing stakeholders to adapt campaign materials to promote their own local services
  • Providing resource centres to allow easier access to materials
  • Providing easy access to information about the campaign via a campaign website and a named contact at DH
  • Giving stakeholders sufficient notice of the impending campaign to allow time to plan local events. Most prefer to order materials by phone, either directly or via existing networks. An online catalogue would also be welcomed.

Research objectives


The core objective of the research was to inform the development of the campaign and its delivery to the public. Specifically, the research set out to explore:

  • what stakeholders would like to see from a sexual health campaign, with particular reference to their local population
  • what consumer messages they feel might work among the target population
  • how they feel about their capacity to deliver the campaign at a local level, including time and resources available
  • what type of materials they would find most useful
  • their training requirements
  • their views on what type of support the Department of Health and campaign management could best provide
  • their views on how the Department of Health should communicate with them about the campaign, including their response to potential ideas for stakeholder messages



The Public Health White Paper (November 2004) announced substantially increased investment commitment to improve sexual health in the UK. On the back of this announcement, in 2005 the Department of Health launched a major sexual health communications campaign. In order to inform the development of this campaign, the Department commissioned a programme of qualitative research among Adult Sexual Health Stakeholders.

Research participants


Stage 1 Comprised 20 interviews with core sexual health stakeholders. The audiences were as follows:

  • GUM clinicians – a mix of health advisors and nurses/doctors/ consultants working in GUM clinics
  • community contraception services – a mix of GPs and nurses
  • Sexual Health Leads within PCTs
  • Teenage Pregnancy Coordinators – a mix of regional and local coordinators

Stage 2 Comprised 24 interviews with secondary stakeholders. The choice of audiences was informed by a workshop convened by COI Strategic Consultancy. The audiences were as follows:

  • School nurses/PSHE coordinators
  • Young people’s services – services aimed specifically at young people, run by NGOs and charities; a mix of general services and dedicated sexual health services
  • Health promotion and communications contacts – working within PCTs and Strategic Health Authorities
  • Directors and Senior Managers of Public Health – working within PCTs, Strategic Health Authorities and Regional Government Offices
  • family planning clinicians – working within dedicated family planning clinics
  • Chlamydia Screening Programme Coordinators

Audience Summary





Not specified



Adults. Age not specified

Social Class


Not specified


Data collection methodology

Depth interviews

Other data collection methodology


The majority of these were individual interviews; two were paired interviews. Most were conducted in person, in respondents’ places of work; three were conducted over the telephone.

Sample size


44 depth interviews with Adult Sexual Health Stakeholders.

Detailed region

  • London – a mix of locations in North and South London
  • Birmingham and environs – a mix of urban and suburban locations
  • Manchester and environs – a mix of urban and rural locations
  • Leeds and environs – a mix of urban and rural locations
  • South West - a mix of rural and urban locations in Devon - two rural locations in Cornwall, selected because of their participation in the local Chlamydia Screening Programme

Fieldwork dates


Between 3rd February and 14th March 2005.

Agree to publish





Low. Content of report may be of limited value since much of the data relates to views about a planned sexual health campaign, which was launched 4 years ago. However, there may be valuable information for those planning sexual health campaigns in relation to tone and content of potential messages. Lessons are also shared from past campaigns.

Research agency

Cragg Ross Dawson

COI Number


Report format