Evaluation of Holistic Sexuality Education

Holistic sexuality education, a concept which also forms the basis of the Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe is a new concept in Sexuality Education. Since it differs from other types of Sexuality Education in a number of important aspects, strategies developed for the evaluation of the latter are not necessarily applicable to holistic Sexuality Education.

In a position paper, published in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, the authors (a sub-group of the European Expert Group on Sexuality Education) provide a basis for discussion on how to evaluate Holistic Sexuality Education. The paper is based on a thorough study of the international literature on evaluation of sexuality education - in particular its applicability to Holistic Sexuality Education - and on extensive discussions in the European Expert Group on Sexuality Education.

One of the findings is that the majority of the literature on the evaluation of Sexuality Education programmes focuses primarily on outcome/impact evaluations and neglects programme and implementation evaluations. Therefore, the authors provide suggestions for appropriate indicators for evaluating Holistic Sexuality Education on all three levels (outcome/impact -, programme- and implementation level).  

Furthermore, the current literature demonstrates that evaluation criteria of sexuality education programmes predominantly focus on the public health impact, while there is not yet a consensus on sexual well-being criteria and aspects of positive sexuality, which are crucial parts of Holistic Sexuality Education. To be applicable to Holistic Sexuality Education, the evaluation criteria therefore need to cover more than the typical public health aspects.

The paper argues that it is not possible to demonstrate causal effects of Holistic Sexuality Education using only one evaluation technique. Rather, it is suggested to complement and triangulate different data sources in order to build a plausible case for its merits, looking at the medium- to long-term outcomes in relationships, sexual well-being and good health.

The paper is published in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care  (Volume 21, Issue 1, 2016).