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Health education, Sexual health, STI prevention, Young adults



  1. von Sadovszky, Victoria PhD, RN
  2. Kovar, Cheryl Kleck MSN, RN, CNS
  3. Brown, Carolyn MS, CRNP
  4. Armbruster, Molly BSN, RN


Purpose: To ascertain young adults perceptions of previously received sexual health information and describe what types of information they would like to receive.


Study Design and Methods: In individual interviews, 55 young adults were asked questions regarding their perceptions of previously received sexual health information as well as their interests in receiving future information. Content analysis was used to categorize responses and identify categories.


Results: The majority of participants remember receiving information about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) primarily from classes in middle and high school. Less than half remembered receiving information about contraception or how to prevent STIs. The majority of participants did not feel that (or were uncertain about whether) past information influenced their current sexual practices. Of those who felt past education influenced them in changing sexual practices, an increase in awareness of their risk was the category most often cited. One-third of the participants responded that a culture of abstinence in the US explained why current educational programs failed. When asked to describe an ideal sexual health program, the most common answers were wanting a comfortable, "not scared" person to teach them more "nitty-gritty" information about STIs with "more details," what they could do to protect themselves, "how to get birth control," and "how the reproductive system works."


Clinical Implications: Young adults have specific needs and interests when it comes to sexual health information. Research is necessary to see if development of specific interventions requested by young adults would result in higher levels of recall and ability to avoid dangerous sexual practices.