Sexual Health & Relationships

Development and Evaluation of SHARE Programme
The SHARE sex education programme originated in the early 1990s from concerns about four aspects of young people's sexual health:

  • the increasing teenage abortion rate;
  • the prevalence of HIV in the east of Scotland;
  • increasing evidence of the high prevalence of Chlamydia and its links with subsequent infertility, and
  • the reported high incidence of coercive sexual encounters.

Several researchers, who had all been involved in primary studies of young people's sexual behaviour, formed a group to:

  1. develop a sustainable school sex education programme that was theoretically and research based, and which drew on the best existing materials, and
  2. rigorously evaluate this sex education programme through a randomised trial complemented by careful process evaluation (Wight, 1997).


Development of programme
In 1993 the Health Education Board for Scotland funded preliminary research into the current provision of sex education in Scotland, young people's perceived sex education needs and the feasibility of a research-based intervention and its evaluation through a randomised trial. Senior teachers were interviewed in four schools in Edinburgh and four in Dundee, and group discussions held with Secondary 4 pupils (aged 15-16) in five schools.

The original research team then developed learning objectives for a two year sex education course for 13-15 year olds. Hilary Dixon was commissioned to assemble materials to meet these objectives, through identifying existing exercises, modifying existing exercises or writing new ones. An Advisory Committee made up of specialists from the Health Education Board for Scotland, Health Education Advisors in the LEAs, health promotion specialists and the Guidance specialist for Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Schools met frequently to comment on various drafts. Leading sex education specialists in Britain, the Netherlands and the United States reviewed an early draft of the pack, and throughout the piloting phase teachers played an invaluable role in helping us transform theoretically based exercises into workable classroom lessons.

The teacher training course and resource pack were piloted from 1994 to 1995 in Lothian and Tayside. They were initially piloted in four schools with nine teachers and 17 classes. The training was evaluated through participant observation, participants' self-complete questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. The SHARE pack was evaluated through a brief teacher questionnaire for each lesson, semi-structured interviewing of teachers and pupils, single sex group discussions with pupils, and, most valuable, observation of lessons (for more details see Wight and Scott, 1996).

This research, plus the feedback from sex education specialists, resulted in substantial changes to the pilot materials. In particular, many of the role play exercises to develop negotiation skills were replaced with an interactive video, and exercises were developed which did not assume pupils to have had as much sexual experience. The revised SHARE programme and training were piloted in a further four schools. This second pilot involved 15 teachers and 23 classes and the same research methods as before, except that pupil group discussions were replaced by a self-complete questionnaire. This was comprised almost entirely of open-ended questions. Smaller changes were made as a result of the second pilot and in 1996 a randomised controlled trial of the programme began (Wight et al., 2002).


Evaluation of programme
See SHARE Trial.

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