Understanding young people's condom and contraception use

Issued: Mon, 09 Sep 2019 12:05:00 BST

Published 10th September 2019

The MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit is to carry out research to understand the multilevel factors influencing young people’s acquisition and use of condoms and contraception.

Young people aged 24 and under continue to carry the greatest burden of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Condoms remain the most commonly used form of protection against STIs and unintended pregnancies by young people in Scotland, yet despite being freely available in all NHS boards via local condom distribution schemes, the number of young people accessing these services has decreased in recent years. At the same time, data from Health Protection Scotland show increases in STI diagnoses, such as gonorrhoea and syphilis, in this age group over the last 10 year period.

Young women aged 20 -24 are the age group experiencing the highest rate of abortion care in Scotland which can be a proxy measure for unplanned conception. While both the rate and numbers of conceptions in under 20 year olds have significantly decreased in the last 10 years, over the last five years there has also been marked decrease in the proportion of young women in the same age group who have accessed Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC). Collectively these trends suggest changes in sexual health behaviours among young people.

Three NHS health boards (NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Lothian) in partnership with Scottish Government have commissioned the research which will take place between September 2019 and August 2020. 

It will involve a range of research methods, including: engagement events, focus groups, online discussion boards, and an online survey. The project will involve key stakeholders and young people from all three board areas to co-produce the key findings and recommendations, which will be shared in a final written report.


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