Doing Relationships and Sexuality Education with Young People in State Care

Abbey Hyde, Deirdre Fullerton, Caroline McKeown, Maria Lohan, Laura Dunne, Geraldine MacDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
271 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Existing literature indicates that young people in state carehave particular sexual health needs that include addressing their social andemotional well-being, yet little has been published as to how thesecomponents of sex education are actually delivered by service-providers.Objective: To analyse the processes involved in delivering relationship andsexuality education to young people in state care from the perspectives ofa sample of service-providers with a role in sexual health care delivery.Design: Qualitative methodological strategy.Setting: Service-delivery sites at urban and rural locations in Ireland.Method: Twenty-two service-providers were interviewed in depth, and datawere analysed using a qualitative analytical strategy resembling modifiedanalytical induction.Findings: Participants proffered their perceptions and examples of theirpractices of sex education in relation to the following themes: (1)acknowledging the multi-dimensional nature of sexual health in the case ofyoung people in care; (2) personal and emotional development educationto address poor self-esteem, emotional disconnectedness and an inabilityto recognise and express emotions; (3) social skills’ education as part of arepertoire of competencies needed to negotiate relationships and safer sex;(4) the application of positive social skills embedded in everyday socialsituations; and (5) factual sexuality education.Conclusion: Insights into service providers’ perceptions of the multidimensionalnature of the sexual health needs of young people in statecare, and the ways in which these service-providers justified their practicemake visible the complex character of sex education and the degree of skillrequired to deliver it to those in state care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-205
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Education Journal
Issue number2
Early online date30 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2017


  • sex education
  • looked-after young people
  • qualitative research
  • ireland
  • state care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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