Provision of positive sexual health services for young people: a realist evaluation

SHEARN, Katie, PIERCY, Hilary, ALLMARK, Peter and HIRST, Julia (2016). Provision of positive sexual health services for young people: a realist evaluation. The Lancet, 388 (Supp2), S105.

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Background English and international policy calls for positive, comprehensive youth sexual health services (PCYSHS) that support young people to achieve sexual wellbeing. In practice, youth sexual health services are often oriented solely towards reducing unwanted conceptions and preventing sexually transmitted infections. This study aimed to develop theory and recommendations for practitioners to support delivery of PCYSHS. Methods A realist evaluation was undertaken to uncover what works, for whom, and under what conditions, to deliver PCYSHS. We developed concepts and initial theories, in which we combined existing substantive theory with a logic model based on stakeholder's tacit knowledge, observational visits, and data that were relevant to underlying causal processes, extracted from academic and policy literature (27 sources). Academic sources were identified via a systematic search of four electronic databases. Search terms were “sexual health”, combined with “sex positive”, “young people”, “service”, and synonyms (“reproductive health”, “sexual subjectivity”, “sexual rights”, “holistic”, “integrated”, “reproductive rights”, “preventative”, “comprehensive”, “young”, “youth” “teen*”, “adolescen*”, “intervention*”, “framework*”, “paradigm*”, “programme*”, “model*”, “trial*”, “pilot*”) with no date restrictions. We selected papers relating to whole system transformation to PCYSHS in developed countries, written in English. Papers that considered only education settings, one-off interventions, or information resources were excluded. Papers were appraised by rigour and relevance in accordance with realist methodology guidelines. Evidence was then gathered from case studies of three services in England that had attempted implementation of PCYSHS. Data were derived via stakeholder interviews (n=24), social and print media (15), service specifications (5), and evaluation and consultation documentation (5). Analysis of these data (Nvivo, version 10) was directed at substantiating, refining, or refuting the initial theories. Ethics approval was given by Sheffield Hallam University Research Ethics Committee. Findings 76 sources contributed to the development and testing of programme theories. The theories articulated how local buy-in to PCYSHS could be led by the following factors: clarity of both the concept and individual role; conviction in the approach to bring about positive change for young people; and coherence with local and national priorities. The theories suggested the mechanisms by which these factors work and showed the ways in which outcomes are contextually dependent. Interpretation This study explains some of the challenges of translating the policy ambition of PCYSHS into practice. The realist inquiry found theoretical mechanisms that might affect delivery of PCYSHS and the contextual conditions that could hinder or enable them. These theories can help inform the development and evaluation of PCYSHS initiatives.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Departments - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities > Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics
Identification Number:
Page Range: S105
Depositing User: Peter Allmark
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2016 16:35
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 00:40

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