Sexual Health Messaging for Young People at Music Festivals

Across the 2012-13 summer festival’s season, a sexual health promotion initiative by New South Wales Health -- the NSW Festivals Initiative --targeted young people in four music festivals in the state of NSW. The aim of the initiative was to promote a range of sexual health related behaviours that can contribute to reducing the prevalence of STIs: talking to friends and partners about condoms and STIs; carrying and using condoms; and getting tested for STIs. These behaviours were promoted through a comprehensive sexual health promotion intervention that consisted of 9 components, including online and print advertising, distribution of condoms and branded slapband, interactive engagement with an online game (Dare To score) and activities provided at a dedicated infobooth at the festival. An evaluation of the NSW Festival initiative was conducted by CSRH three months after the event for one of the four music festivals held in Sydney. Festival attendees were invited by the concert promoter to answer an online evaluation survey. The evaluation was conducted on a sample of 357 young participants who met the eligibility criteria out of 827 respondents who provided their informed consent online to participate in the survey. Less than half of the festival attendees reported that they had been exposed to at least one initiative component. Overall, the intervention package was found to be effective in motivating young festival attendees to adopt a range of behaviours related to either condom use or testing for STIs and there was a relationship between festival attendees’ sexual related behavioural intentions and the number of intervention components attendees had been exposed to. These results seem to demonstrate the benefits of using multicomponent intervention to promote sexual health at music festivals or concerts.

Firstly, we assessed attendees’ levels of exposure to the intervention, including exposure to specific intervention components. We in particular assessed whether exposure to the intervention was associated with young people’s intentions to adopt the recommended sexual health behaviours, and if there was a dose-response relationship between behavioural intentions and the number and types of intervention components participants had been exposed to.

The present study gives the opportunity to empirically assess the added value of engaging festival attendees in a range of activities, rather than a single component intervention. As conducting multi-component interventions is more resource intensive and costly than a single component intervention, comparing their respective ability to engage young people and their potential effect on desired outcomes can be very insightful for future sexual health programs.

Funding Agency

NSW STI Programs Unit, NSW Health, Australian Government Department of Health

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