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The role of digital interventions in sexual health
  1. Tom Nadarzynski1,
  2. Leanne Morrison2,
  3. Jake Bayley3,
  4. Carrie Llewellyn4
  1. 1Sexual Health Services, Royal South Hants Hospital, Southampton, UK
  2. 2Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  3. 3Sexual Health and HIV, Bart's Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  4. 4Primary Care & Public Health, BSMS, Brighton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tom Nadarzynski, Sexual Health Services, Royal South Hants Hospital, Southampton SO14 0YG, UK; t.nadarzynski{at}

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Approximately 1 million people worldwide acquire an STI each day.1 There is an urgent need for comprehensive education and behavioural support for sexual health using the most effective communication channels. Digital interventions such as interactive websites and mobile phone applications (apps) provide valuable opportunities to raise awareness about STIs and available sexual health services to supplement standard health education delivered at schools and within the community or clinical settings. With increasing rates of daily internet access (82%), smartphone ownership (71%) and the use of social networking sites (SNS) (63%) in the UK,2 the development of digital sexual health promotion programmes that will help to prevent and control the spread of STIs is a growing area of research.

Digital interventions increase knowledge about STIs, but this does not necessarily translate to behaviour change. Bailey et al3 reviewed 19 randomised controlled trials of digital sexual health education programmes delivered through CD-ROMs, multimedia games, simulation-based programmes, virtual consultations, online risk assessments and counselling video vignettes.3 They found a moderate effect on sexual health knowledge and a small effect on sexual behaviours such as the use of condoms, but no significant effect on safer sex intentions and biological outcomes such as self-reported STIs. Another review of 51 interventions using SNS, notably Facebook and Twitter, for sexual …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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