Original Research - Special Collection: Sexual Health

The start of sexual health curriculum development and evaluation at Stellenbosch University

Heidi van Deventer, Michael W. Ross, Jantien Thomson, Marlena du Toit, Mieke Poelsma, Marie Pienaar, Andre van der Merwe, Matthys H. Botha
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 15, No 1 | a3825 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v15i1.3825 | © 2023 Heidi van Deventer, Michael W. Ross, Jantien Thomson, Marlena du Toit, Mieke Poelsma, Marie Pienaar, Andre van der Merwe, Matthys H. Botha | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 August 2022 | Published: 08 March 2023

About the author(s)

Heidi van Deventer, Division of Urology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Michael W. Ross, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Institute of Sexual and Gender Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, United States
Jantien Thomson, Private Sexology Practice, the Netherlands
Marlena du Toit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Mieke Poelsma, Private Sexology Practice, the Netherlands
Marie Pienaar, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Andre van der Merwe, Division of Urology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Matthys H. Botha, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), developed a sexual health course to be integrated throughout the revised medical curriculum.

Aim: To use the Sexual Health Education for Professionals Scale (SHEPS) to gather baseline and future follow-up data to inform curriculum development and evaluation.

Setting: The first-year medical students (N = 289) of the FMHS SU.

Methods: The SHEPS was answered before the start of the sexual health course. The knowledge, communication and attitude sections were answered with a Likert-type scale. Students had to describe their perceived confidence in their knowledge and communication skills to care for patients within specific sexuality-related clinical scenarios. The attitude section measured the students’ level of agreement or disagreement on sexuality-related opinion statements.

Results: The response rate was 97%. Most students were female, and 55% of the class were first taught about sexuality in the age group 13–18 years. The students had more confidence in their communication skills than knowledge before any tertiary training. The attitude section revealed a binomial distribution, ranging from acceptance to a more restrictive attitude towards sexual behaviour.

Conclusion: It is the first time the SHEPS has been used in a South African context. The results provide novel information about the range of perceived sexual health knowledge, skills and attitudes of first-year medical students before they start tertiary training.

Contribution: Findings from this study will guide content development and evaluation of the sexual health course at the institution where the study was conducted, as well as allow for culture sensitive education.



Keywords

curriculum development; sexual health course; medical curriculum; taking a sexual history; sexual health; SHEPS.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education

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