JMIR Form Res. 2023 Oct 26;7:e49009. doi: 10.2196/49009.
BACKGROUND: Web-based sexual health interventions may be more acceptable to people compared with face-to-face support, given the stigma and embarrassment often associated with sexual problems. The Dutch public sexual health clinics (SHCs) conducted an implementation pilot with 4 web-based self-training programs on sexual dysfunctions (WSTPs) for young people. In addition to a basic sexuality program, the WSTPs focused on the following complaints: pain during intercourse, premature ejaculation, and no sex drive.
OBJECTIVE: This study aims to gain insight into the potential reach of the freely offered WSTPs; use, acceptance, evaluation, and perceived impact of the WSTPs by young people; and evaluation and acceptance of the WSTPs by nurses of the SHCs.
METHODS: A quantitative baseline measurement (BM) and a follow-up measurement (FM) were conducted among the users. In addition, qualitative data were gathered through video interviews with a sample of respondents of the FM and nurses of the SHCs to gain more in-depth insights into their assessment of the WSTPs. Participants were recruited via social media, posters, and referrals by nurses of the SHCs. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Independent 2-tailed t tests and one-way independent ANOVAs were used to compare the scores between subgroups based on background characteristics. Dependent 2-tailed t tests were used to assess the possible changes between BM and FM. The interviews were analyzed using a thematic analysis.
RESULTS: A total of 1028 young people (aged 16-24 y) completed the BM, 666 started with 1 of the WSTPs, and 104 participants completed the FM. In addition, 8 users and 8 nurses were interviewed. Of the participants who completed the BM, 87.74% (902/1028) experienced moderate (411/1028, 39.98%) to high (491/1028, 47.76%) severity of complaints, of which 20.43% (210/1028) had had them for >1 year and 27.82% (286/1028) even for ≥2 years, and 38.91% (400/1028) were dissatisfied with their sex lives. Only 8.75% (90/1028) had sought professional help in the past 2 years. At FM, users rated satisfaction with their sex life more positively than they did at BM, and they experienced less discomfort from their complaints. The overall rating was positive, with a mean report grade of 7.3 (SD 1.45; on a 10-point scale). Anonymity, clear information and explanation, and practical exercises are indicated as strengths of the WSTPs, leading to more understanding and normalization. Nurses appreciate the high quality of information and accessibility of the WSTPs. They consider them as a valuable addition to the consultation hours.
CONCLUSIONS: WSTPs can reach a large number of young people with sexual problems who are less likely to seek professional help. This can result in an improved understanding of their issues, a decrease in complaints, and reduced barriers to communicating with a partner or professional.