Are condom and contraception services meeting young people's needs?

Published: 26 June 2020

Scotland-wide survey seeks to shed light on why young people may be less likely to use some forms of contraception and condoms than five years ago.

Published 26th June 2020

Project CONUNDRUM is canvassing the views of 16-24 year olds across Scotland on their attitudes towards condoms and contraception and follows evidence which suggests a gradual decrease in the overall uptake of services offering free condoms and some forms of contraception.

As a joint partnership commissioned by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde involving Scottish Government, NHS Lothian and Lanarkshire and led by the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, it’s hoped the findings can inform decision making on future policy and access to sexual health services among young people across Scotland.

Specifically, the survey seeks to find out what matters most to young people in accessing free condoms and contraception, how they navigate sexual health information, and whether health services need to adapt the way which they provide that access and information. 

The Sandyford, which is NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s specialist sexual health service, has long offered a variety of services to help ensure people have access to free contraception and sexual health advice, most recently launching a free condom postal service to ensure service continuity during the pandemic. The service is keen to ensure ongoing high levels of engagement with young people to minimise risks including unintended pregnancies and an increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Nicky Coia, health improvement manager for Sandyford Sexual Health Services at NHSGGC, said: “Over the past five years in Scotland we’ve noticed a slow decline in the number of young people accessing free condom services, and we need to understand exactly why to help us ensure the services we deliver are meeting the needs and priorities of young people across Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and Scotland.

“We need as many young people across Scotland as possible to answer the 10 minute survey which will be invaluable in helping us find that out and why attitudes may have changed and what needs to be done.”

Dr Ruth Lewis and Carolyn Blake, the lead researchers from the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit added:

“Understanding young people’s experiences and views is key to designing sexual health initiatives with which they feel they can, and want, to engage. This new survey has been designed with input from young people and professionals involved in supporting sexual health in Scotland through a series of workshops. When the survey closes at the end of July, we look forward to taking the findings back to young people, and working with them to develop recommendations.

The CONUNDRUM survey will run until the end of July. It is open to all 16-24 year olds living in Scotland.

First published: 26 June 2020

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