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  • Publication
    Promoting Sexual Health: Exploring the Role of School-Based Sex Education Programmes on Sexual Health Behaviours of Young Adults in Ireland. A Mixed Methods Investigation
    (University College Dublin. School of Psychology, 2022) ;
    Background: With the rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) on the rise globally, sex education is a key source of information for young people to acquire knowledge, skills, and attitudes to make effective decisions regarding their sexual health behaviours. Previous research indicates sex education is associated with delaying sexual debut and adopting safer sex practices in youth. Alternatively, other research suggests that it only enhances knowledge and does not promote positive sexual health behaviours. The aim of this thesis was to provide evidence-based knowledge regarding the role that school-based sex education programmes have on shaping sexual health behaviours through the presentation of two distinct but well-linked studies. Study 1: A systematic review was conducted that synthesised and evaluated all available research on school-based sex education interventions for all sexual health behaviour outcomes between January 2006 and October 2020. This review also identified Behaviour Change Techniques that were associated with effective school-based sex education interventions. The findings of this review indicated that school-based sex education interventions are effective for sexual health behaviours and the most common BCT identified was information about health consequences. Study 2: Utilising Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory (1979), an Exploratory Sequential Mixed Methods Research design (ESMMR) was applied to explore the role of the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in sexual health behaviours in young adults (18-25). The findings of this research indicated that i) the School Climate is an important factor in understanding school-based sex education on sexual health behaviours and ii) Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory is an important framework for furthering our understanding of the influence that school-based sex education has on shaping sexual health behaviours in young adults. Conclusion: This thesis provides evidence-based knowledge for the reconceptualisation of school-based sex education programmes for shaping sexual health behaviours.