Integrating psychological theory into the design of an online intervention for sexual health: the sexunzipped website.

Carswell (2012)
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The Internet can provide a confidential and convenient medium for sexual health promotion for young people. This paper describes the development of an interactive, theory-based website (Sexunzipped) aimed at increasing safe sexual behavior of young people, as well as an outline of the evaluation protocol. The website focuses on safer sex, relationships, and sexual pleasure. An overview of the site is provided, including a description of the theoretical constructs which form the basis of the site development. An integrated behavioral model was chosen as the guiding theory for the Sexunzipped intervention. A randomized trial design will be used to evaluate the site quantitatively. The content of the site is described in detail with examples of the main content types: information pages, quizzes, and decision-making activities. We describe the protocol for quantitative evaluation of the website using a randomized trial design and discuss the principal challenges involved in developing the site, including the challenge of balancing the requirements of theory with young peoples views on website content and design. Considerations for future interventions are discussed. Developing an online behavior-change intervention is costly and time consuming. Given the large public health potential, the cost involved in developing online interventions, and the need for attractive design, future interventions may benefit from collaborating with established sites that already have a user base, a brand, and a strong Internet presence. It is vital to involve users in decisions about intervention content, design, and features, paying attention to aspects that will attract and retain users interest. A central challenge in developing effective Internet-based interventions for young people is to find effective ways to operationalize theory in ways that address the views and perspectives of young people.