Research type 
Desk research
Year of report 

Summary of findings


The report suggests the necessary ingredients for successful mass media campaigns and then goes on to look at possible techniques for non-mass media interventions, these include:

  • Individual risk counselling
  • Partner notifications
  • Group interventions
  • Community level interventions
  • Increasing availability of condoms

Chlamydia is mentioned as being the most prevalent and often asymptomatic STI and various strategies for screening and prevention are discussed. Learning from international mass media sexual health campaigns (Dutch, American and Australian) is also drawn on. Final sections of the report cover similar areas but looks in more detail at young people under the age of 16, Black and Minority Groups (BMEG) and Men Who have Sex with Men.

Research objectives


The research details current data on knowledge, attitudes and beliefs relating to sexual behaviour in adults aged 16-34 and uses this information to recommend the tone, content and preferred media route for the planned Sexual Health Campaign. Lifestyle data of different age groups, particularly in relation to risky behaviours, together with media consumption habits are discussed.



A new high profile Sexual Health Campaign was launched in 2005 targeting men and women aged 16 to 34 in all socio-economic groups. The central message of the campaign was that “Sex without a condom is seriously risky: always use a condom.” The campaign was launched to counter an increase in risk taking behaviour and a rise in prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

Public Health educational campaigns must be based on best practice and hard evidence. “Choosing Health” the White Paper outlining the government strategy on health states that campaigns must:

  • Be based on an understanding of what different population groups need
  • Take account of why people make the choices they do
  • Be based on the best available evidence and international best practice
  • Be tested to ensure that the messages get across to the relevant target audience.

The White Paper makes it clear that these campaigns will not simply rely on national mass media campaigns. It states that: “These campaigns will operate at a national and regional level and use creative social marketing techniques and new technology. They will promote key messages and local services through a variety of channels, for example in schools and workplaces as well as through health professionals.” This research was commissioned to provide information on the sexual behaviours and condom usage of this target group. It also reviews best practice in sexual health campaigns, drawing on learnings from the UK and abroad. The lifestyles and media usage of this age group are reviewed to identify the most effective channels for reaching the audience.

Research participants

  • Sexually active adults 16-34
  • Young people under 16

Audience Summary




  • General population
  • Black and Minority Ethnic Groups



Report includes sections on:

  • 16-34yrs
  • under 16's

Social Class


The campaign, which is the focus of this research, targets all social groups (as opposed to C2DE’s targeted in the last Adult Sexual Health Campaign).


Data collection methodology

Textual/documentary analysis

Other data collection methodology


A literature search was first undertaken to identify those sources that would be most useful. For the sections describing sexual behaviour and condom usage in the UK, sources from the UK only were used. For those sections examining best practice in sexual health education programmes and mass media campaigns in general, international sources were also used.

Sample size


Not applicable

Detailed region


Not applicable

Fieldwork dates


Not applicable

Agree to publish



Research agency

Educational Communications

COI Number


Report format