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Exploring the Development of Existing Sex Education Programmes for People with Intellectual Disabilities: An Intervention Mapping Approach

In the field of intellectual disability, professionals developed sexual education programs. This investigation aims to explore the development of these programs.

As the methodology, sex education programs geared to people with intellectual disabilities were examined in the context of the Intervention Mapping protocol. Data were obtained via interviews with the program developers. The sex education programs were selected if they were about sex education, targeted people with intellectual disabilities, and were currently in use in the Netherlands. The programs that only focused on providing sex education in school settings and programs that focused primarily on preventing sexual abuse were excluded. In total, five sex education programs were selected for this study.

As the result of the investigation, unfortunately, all programs lack specific program outcomes, do not have a theoretical basis, did not involve members of relevant groups in the development process and lack systematic evaluation. Based on our findings and the literature, researchers conclude that these programs are unlikely to be effective.

Sex education for people with intellectual disabilities may be improved in five areas:

  • The first area is the needs assessment. Description of the problem was usually in terms of determinants instead of focusing on the health problem in terms of behavior.
  • The second area of interest concerns the outcomes stated by the programs
  • The third area concerns the theoretical basis of the programs.
  • The fourth area concerns the involvement of the target groups, program implementers and implementation decision-makers.
  • The fifth area concerns the evaluation of the programs.


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