New digital media interventions for sexual health promotion among young people: A systematic review

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New digital media platforms (e.g. social networking sites, web pages and text messaging) have dramatically changed interpersonal communication and present novel opportunities for health interventions. Due to the high uptake and use of digital media among young people, advances in digital media provide potential new opportunities in delivering health interventions to this audience to reduce sexually transmissible infection (STI) risk. The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of sexual health interventions delivered via new digital media to young people (aged 13-24 years). A systematic search was conducted of seven databases for peer-reviewed literature published between January 2010 and April 2017 that evaluated a sexual health intervention delivered to young people (aged 13-24 years). Of 2017 papers reviewed, 25 met the inclusion criteria and were assessed. Sixteen studies used web-based platforms to deliver their intervention. A large proportion of studies (11/25) specifically focused on HIV prevention. Seven studies found a statistically significant effect of the intervention on knowledge levels regarding the prevention HIV and other STI, as well as general sexual health knowledge, but only one-fifth of interventions evaluating intentions to use condoms reported significant effects due to the intervention. Nine studies focused on individuals from an African American background. Although new media has the capacity to expand efficiencies and coverage, the technology itself does not guarantee success. It is essential that interventions using new digital media have high-quality, evidence-based content that engages with individual participants.

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Wadham, E., Green, C., Debattista, J., Somerset, S., & Sav, A. (2019). New digital media interventions for sexual health promotion among young people: A systematic review. Sexual Health. CSIRO.

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