Towards a transnational sexual health research and policy agenda: The European Sexual Medicine Network Delphi study

Joke Dupont*, Marie Chollier, Tomislav Meštrović, Ethel Quayle, Asal Skrenes, Alexis Dewaele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction
The definition of sexual health evolves over time. As sexual health definitions and priorities are also context-dependent, there is a need to identify a diversity of sexual health challenges and priorities from a pan-European perspective.

Methods
We examined what a group of diverse experts in this area identifies as interdisciplinary, transnational priorities on sexual health using a Delphi method. In 2020, 93 participants from 29 countries took part in an online Delphi study. First, based on a three-round Delphi study, a hierarchy of priority topics was developed, comparing consensus rates across the items. Second, a qualitative content analysis of the participants’ responses to existing gaps and possible improvements in sexual health was administered.

Results
An inventory of priority items was created. The panelists identified 37 priority topics, divided into 10 overarching themes. Consensus was reached based on quantitative measurements regarding the importance of the suggested priority topics relevant to sexual health, resulting in 23 implemented items in the list of priorities. Qualitative data from the experts informed us about possible sexual health challenges and blind spots.

Conclusion
The study shows that the priorities chosen generally refer to (1) inclusion of sexual health into relevant medical health fields and education, (2) comprehensive sex education in schools, and (3) sexual violence. The importance of these three topics was, moreover, reflected in the qualitative data.

Policy Implications
By delineating a relatively consensual set of priorities for transnational sexual health research and advocacy, this study outlines a possible research agenda for sexual health in the pan-European region, potentially serving as the base and start of joint interdisciplinary practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Early online date23 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • sexual health
  • Delphi study
  • expert consensus
  • research agenda
  • pan-European studies

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