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Online STI testing & youth

Research theme(s)
Digital Health, Internet Based Testing


Canadian Institutes for Health Research

Principal investigator(s)
Jean Shoveller

Research team
Mark Gilbert, Gina Ogilvie, John Oliffe

Online sexual health services: examining youth’s perspectives
Canadian Journal of Public Health, 2012 Jan-Feb;103(1):14-18

Young people’s perspectives on the use of reverse discourse in web-based sexual-health interventions
Culture, Health & Sexuality, 2012 Oct;14(9). doi: 10.1080/13691058.2012.714800. Epub 2012 Sep 4


New interventions, such as BC’s Online Sexual Health Services Program (OSHSP), are being launched to complement existing face-to-face clinical services, in the hopes that they may improve youth participation in STI/HIV testing. Seeking STI testing remains a deeply stigmatized behaviour, a reality that is unlikely to be fully remedied by online services (e.g., face-to-face enactments of gendered stereotypes can also be represented online through a text-based medium). Unfortunately, we do not yet fully appreciate how important social factors (e.g., social norms; stereotypes about men’s and women’s responsibilities for sexual health) affect experiences with online STI testing (particularly within vulnerable subgroups of youth). Thus, the proposed study will seek to better understand youth’s perspectives on the ways in which important aspects of their social contexts (e.g., stigma; gendered stereotypes) affect their engagement in this and other sexual health promotion activities. Multiple data collection and analysis techniques will be used (e.g., focus groups and individual in-depth interviews; a Youth Roundtable to refine analysis from focus groups and individual interviews and a Youth Working Group will be formed to provide insights into the development and design of the look, feel and content of website). Throughout the project, a series of “Reality Checks” with youth also will be used to obtain feedback on emerging versions of the website, with a particular emphasis on checking in with vulnerable subgroups of youth. The proposed 2-year study will be conducted in Greater Vancouver, and will adopt participatory approaches. Together, we will use new information gathered during our study inform the development and design of an online STI testing service in BC.