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Highlights from this issue
  1. Jackie A Cassell1,
  2. Claudia Estcourt2
  1. 1 Professor of Primary Care Epidemiology, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Lewes, East Sussex, UK
  2. 2 Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland
  1. Correspondence to Prof. Jackie A Cassell; jackiecassell{at} and Claudia Estcourt; Claudia.Estcourt{at}

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In recent years, we have published a growing variety of material on digital health. Though the healthcare sector is perhaps slow on the uptake, we increasingly manage our health, financial and entertainment choices online. Reflecting this, we have decided to establish a new ‘Digital’ theme in the journal, introduced below by Prof Claudia Estcourt who will lead its establishment. The Digital Health theme will allow us to highlight work that reflects digital innovation in healthcare. It will also enable us to nurture a multidisciplinary community of researchers whose skills go beyond our traditional base, reaching into the social sciences and beyond. We are delighted to introduce this theme through two editorials1 2 and research in this emerging field.3

This month we also highlight important research and educational material in the field of child sexual abuse. Margaret Kingston et al present an educational article on the assessment and management of anogenital warts in a child.4 On a related note, Giffard et al explore the interpretation of a positive Chlamydia trachomatis specimen in a child. Other topics include patterns of chlamydia testing in the UK5 and the use of actors to assess STI services.6

Digital Health—a new Theme in the journal

As life becomes increasingly digitalised we are seeing the consequences in both how people are using digital media to form relationships, seek sex and acquire STIs & HIV, and in the expectations of service users to provide sexual health care fit for the digital age. In parallel there is a prominent governmental strategy in many countries to ‘digitalise’ health care and provide self-managed, online solutions.

Within Sexual Health we have been quick to embrace change as we strive for effective delivery of services. Perhaps without realising it, we are already providing considerable eHealth, defined as ‘Utilisation of evolving information and communication technology to develop and improve organisation & delivery of healthcare’ adapted from Eng 2004; Eysenbach 2001. However, a literature search for ‘eSexual Health’ yields relatively little.

But implementation of new technologies within health systems is complex and must be rigorously evaluated from multiple perspectives; we should not be beguiled by the shiny new toy in the toy box unless that toy has proved its worth (in terms of safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness). Evaluation will undoubtedly benefit from diverse research perspectives, drawing on the social sciences, informatics and health economics, in addition to the bio-medical.

I am hoping the Digital theme will encourage you to submit high quality studies, rooted in sexual health medicine, from any methodological standpoint, which address any element of Eng & Eysenbach’s eHealth definition. If we can demonstrate a rich seam of high quality work, we could even make eSexual Health our own new MeSH term.

Claudia Estcourt, Glasgow Caledonian University,



  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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