Development of a Behavior Change Intervention to Improve Sexual Health Service Use Among University Undergraduate Students: Mixed Methods Study Protocol
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BACKGROUND: University students are at risk for acquiring sexually transmitted infections and suffering other negative health outcomes. Sexual health services offer preventive and treatment interventions that aim to reduce these infections and associated health consequences. However, university students often delay or avoid seeking sexual health services. An in-depth understanding of the factors that influence student use of sexual health services is needed to underpin effective sexual health interventions. OBJECTIVE: In this study, we aim to design a behavior change intervention to address university undergraduate students' use of sexual health services at two universities in Nova Scotia, Canada. METHODS: This mixed methods study consists of three phases that follow a systematic approach to intervention design outlined in the Behaviour Change Wheel. In Phase 1, we examine patterns of sexual health service use among university students in Nova Scotia, Canada, using an existing dataset. In Phase 2, we identify the perceived barriers and enablers to students' use of sexual health services. This will include focus groups with university undergraduate students, health care providers, and university administrators using a semistructured guide, informed by the Capability, Opportunity, Motivation-Behaviour Model and Theoretical Domains Framework. In Phase 3, we identify behavior change techniques and intervention components to develop a theory-based intervention to improve students' use of sexual health services. RESULTS: This study will be completed in March 2018. Results from each phase and the finalized intervention design will be reported in 2018. CONCLUSIONS: Previous intervention research to improve university students' use of sexual health services lacks a theoretical assessment of barriers. This study will employ a mixed methods research design to examine university students' use of sexual health service and apply behavior change theory to design a theory- and evidence-based sexual health service intervention. Our approach will provide a comprehensive foundation to co-design a theory-based intervention with service users, health care providers, and administrators to improve sexual health service use among university students and ultimately improve their overall health and well-being.
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