The development and validation of sexual health indicators of Canadians aged 16-24 years
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Objectives: We developed and validated a set of self-administered, multidimensional indicators of sexual health among Canadians aged 16–24 years. Methods: This study used a mixed-method qualitative and quantitative approach to develop and validate indicators of sexual health. We used the four-stage Dillman method to identify, focus-test, pilot-test, and validate key metrics to measure sexual health. We collected quantitative data to validate the measures through a computer-assisted self-interviewing program among a purposive sample of 1,158 people aged 16–24 years recruited from four Canadian provinces. Results: The survey contained 75 items measuring five dimensions of sexual health: (1) physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being in relation to sexuality; (2) approach to sexuality; (3) sexual relationships; (4) sexual experiences; and (5) discrimination, coercion, and violence. Principal components analysis for composite measures found seven components with eigenvalues ≥ 1. The factor structure was stable across gender, age, size of area of residence, and language in which the survey was completed. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients ranged from 0.79 to 0.90. Indicators of condom use at last vaginal sex, protection self-efficacy, sexually transmitted infection/HIV testing self-efficacy, and sexual orientation also showed good construct validity. Conclusions: The indicators constituted a conceptually grounded survey that is easy for young adults to complete and contains valid, reliable, and psychometrically robust measures. The survey instrument provides a tool for future research to collect population-level data to measure and monitor trends in the sexual health of young people in Canada.
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