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Keywords:

  • genital herpes;
  • high-risk behaviour;
  • knowledge;
  • social cognitive theory;
  • attitudes;
  • condom use;
  • intervention;
  • psycho-education;
  • depression;
  • nursing;
  • young adult

Effects of psycho-educational interventions on sexual health risks and psycho-social adaptation in young adults with genital herpes¶The purpose of this study was to test the outcomes of group psycho-educational intervention (PEI) led by nurses on sexual health risks (knowledge, behaviour, disease burden) and psycho-social adaptation (depression, mood states, self-efficacy) in young adults with the chronic disease, genital herpes. Two hundred and fifty-two young adults with symptomatic genital herpes participated in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). The intervention was participation in a three-session group PEI facilitated by a nurse in the community. Participants completed questionnaires measuring sexual health risks (herpes knowledge, sexual risk behaviour, disease burden of patterns of recurrences of outbreaks of the disease), and psycho-social adaptation (depression using the Beck Depression Inventory [BDI], mood states using the Profile of Mood States [POMS], and feelings of self-efficacy for protection from sexually transmitted diseases [PSTD]) at induction into the study, and at 3 and 6 months. Participants were mainly employed, Caucasian, single women in their twenties (X = 27·1 years, SD = 4·3), with some college education; 23% of the sample were men. After controlling for baseline knowledge about genital herpes, the experimental group had significantly more knowledge than the control group at 3 and 6 months' post-intervention. They also reported using condoms and spermicides to prevent the spread of genital herpes more often than did the control group. The implications for nurses in the community include the following: (a) PEI is an intervention that can be used by nurses in the community with a high-risk population; (b) group intervention is a viable treatment for people with a highly stigmatized, chronic sexually transmitted disease (STD); and (c) further testing of the use of PEI by nurses in the community with other high-risk populations is needed.