Sunday, 11 March 2012

Times: Everything they need to know about sex ...
Tuesday, February 14, 2012, by Claudia Calleja

The use of contraception, and awareness about the different types, will be studied. Photo: Jason Borg

At what age do most Maltese people first have sex? How many have multiple partners? Is contraception used frequently? How frequently is violence used in the bedroom?

These are among the questions that will be addressed in a survey that will, for the first time, provide a nationwide snapshot of the sexual behaviour and awareness of Maltese adults.

The survey is being carried out by the Department of Health Information Research. It forms part of the implementation of the Sexual Health Strategy launched last year, said Mater Dei Hospital chief medical officer Natasha Azzopardi Muscat.

The strategy highlighted the need for more research to help guide policymakers to improve the sexual health of the nation.

The study launched yesterday will be the first of a series that will look into different aspects of sexual health.

Dr Azzopardi Muscat said the department would be focusing first on adult sexual health, since there are already several other studies into the sexual behaviour of adolescents.

Department statistician Dorothy Gauci said the survey will be in the form of a self-filled questionnaire and will target 1,200 people in Malta and Gozo between the ages of 16 and 40.

This study will look into sexual activity, orientation, age at first intercourse, number of partners, use of contraception, sexual violence, sexual education and awareness about sexually transmitted infections, among other things.

A team of 11 researchers will start working on the project towards the end of this month and results are expected to be in around the third quarter of the year.
Due to the sensitive nature of the subject, the department opted to use a research method called probability quota sampling. The trained interviewers will handpick the interviewees so long as they fill in strict demographic requirements. The interviewee will return the completed questionnaire to the interviewer in a sealed envelope.

People participating in the study will be given a pen drive containing health promotional material. They will also be given the choice to fill in a lottery ticket to win an iPad.

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