A survey on the barriers to uptake of sexual and reproductive health services amongst LJMU students


  • Ighodaro Aibangbe


Sexual Health, University, Students, Services, Barriers


Background: University students acquiring Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) can be linked to engagement in casual sex, high-risk social behaviours and inconsistent condom use.  As such, most Universities offer a wide range of sexual health services to prevent and manage STIs, as well as unwanted pregnancies,  and aim to promote healthy sexual behaviours. However, regardless of the availability of these services, university students can often delay or avoid access to these services with male students particularly being either unaware of or hesitant to seek guidance and treatment relating to their sexual health. Factors perceived to influence students accessing sexual health services includes the availability of services, concerns about confidentiality and the stigma associated with using such services.

Methods: Liverpool John Moore University Students (LJMU) were recruited to an online questionnaire. The questionnaire consisted of three sections; 1) demographics, 2) participants knowledge of sexual and reproductive health services (SRH), and 3) barriers to accessing services. The questionnaire was advertised in University buildings, through social media and via a University gatekeeper. Data was analysed using both descriptive and inferential statistics via SPSS. 

Results: Eighty-five LJMU students participated in this study. One in three (30.6%; n=26) identified as male and 69.4% (n=59) as female. For age, 14.1% (n=12) participants reported being below 20 years of age, 35.3% (n=30) were between 20 and 24 years, 27.1% (n=23) were between 25 and 29
years, 16.5% (n=14) were between 30 and 34 years and 7.1% (n=6) reported being 35 years and above. Over a third (34.1%; n=29) were students of the Faculty of Health, 23.5% (n=20) reported being students of the Faculty of Science, 18.8% (n=16) were students of the Faculty of Business and Law, 14.1% (n=12) were students of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology, 9.4% (n=8) were students of the Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social sciences. The majority of students  (66.7%; n=56) preferred accessing SRH service face to face, with 22.6% (n=19) preferring to access online services and 10.7% (n=9) preferring phone access. Students generally received SRH information from healthcare providers and hospitals (39.3%; n=33), with 25% (n=21) receiving advice from the media, 21.4% (n=18) from their friends, 4.8% (n=4) from family, and 9.5% (n=8) reported teachers as their main sources of SRH information.

Conclusion: LJMU students should be encouraged to access SRH knowledge and services with services needing to be visible. Further research could explore the design of digital interventions, however these require service user involvement.