Research into the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of brief, free of charge and anonymous sex counselling to improve (mental) health in youth: Design of a randomised controlled trial

A. Grauvogl*, S.M.A.A. Evers, K. van den Hoek, E. van der Veen, A. Franke, J.J.D.M. van Lankveld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The capacity to form romantic relationships and sexual health of adolescents in the Netherlands are compromised by several factors, including young age of first intercourse and adolescent depression. Several thresholds like own expenses, trust and embarrassment prevent adolescents to seek help for their sexual problems. To overcome these thresholds, brief sex counselling has been developed. It has been used since 2006 within the Rotterdam-Rijnmond Public Health Service, but there is lack of information about the (cost-) effectiveness. In the current study we will evaluate the (cost-) effectiveness of brief sex counselling for sexual problems in adolescents and young adults between 18 and 25 years of age.
Methods: In a randomised controlled trial we will compare (1) brief sex counselling with (2) intensive sexological treatment, and (3) delayed treatment (waiting list). Embedded in this RCT will be a trial-based economic evaluation, looking at the cost-effectiveness and cost-utility of brief sex counselling versus the two other interventions. Four hundred fifty adolescents (aged 18-25) with sexual problems will be recruited among the persons who visit the Public Health Service (PHS) and through various websites. After a screening procedure, eligible participants will be randomly allocated to one of the three intervention groups. Primary outcome measure of the clinical evaluation is the severity of sexual problems. Other outcomes include psychological distress, especially depression. The economic evaluation will be performed from a societal perspective. Costs will be assessed continuously by a retrospective questionnaire covering the last 3 month. All outcome assessments (including those for the economic evaluation) will take place via the internet at baseline, and at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after baseline.
Discussion: The proposed research project will be the first study to provide preliminary data about the effect and costeffectiveness of brief sex counselling in youth in comparison with intensive sexological treatment and delayed treatment. It is anticipated that positive results in (cost-) effectiveness of the proposed intervention will contribute to the improvement of sexual health care for adolescents and young adults.
Trial registration: The study has been registered at the Netherlands Trial Register, part of the Dutch Cochrane Centre (NTR1952)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

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