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Title: Competent or not? : young people's accounts of sexual readiness
Author: Templeton, Michelle
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 2342
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2016
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Young people’s sexual health is a significant public health concern and associated with risks of unintended outcomes. Yet their voices are largely missing in the design of sexual health services, policy and education programmes. This study explored young people’s subjective understandings of their sexual readiness, and sexual health professionals’ understandings relative to how they assess young people’s sexual competence. A participatory rights-based approach was applied to support young people’s active participation in the research process. This involved including young people as co-researchers whose contextual expertise informed research design, ethical issues and interpretation of the data. Qualitative data collected from 20 young people aged 16-18 years, and 16 sexual health professionals, provided insights into the nature of young people’s first sexual intercourse and the context in which it occurs. The evidence suggests that while these young people actively deliberated about having sex, their sexual initiation was mostly spontaneous while under the influence of alcohol, and motivated by presumed peer rewards. Gender differences in expectations, motivations and the impact of first sex were apparent, which reveals more about the wider social structures that regulate their lives. As a result, some young people may find it difficult to resist the hegemonic gender stereotypes enforced by society and their peers, and may initiate sex to ‘get it over with’, whether they are competent or not. Four main constructs, i) rights, ii) respect, iii) responsibility and iv) resilience, emerged that are worthy of further investigation. These could prove useful to inform a more context-based sexual health promotion strategy and measure of sexual competence, as opposed to the current age and risk focus. Adding young people’s perspectives is crucial to develop more equitable, effective and sustainable youth-friendly sexual health education, treatment and advice services, that better engage with young people and more adequately reflects their needs.
Supervisor: Lohan, Maria ; Lundy, Laura ; Kelly, Carmel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sexual Health ; Rights-based approach ; Participation methods ; Adolescent Health ; Sex Education