What is sexual wellbeing, and why does it matter for public health?

Mitchell, K. , Lewis, R. , O'Sullivan, L. F. and Fortenberry, J. D. (2021) What is sexual wellbeing, and why does it matter for public health? Lancet Public Health, 6(8), e608-e613. (doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(21)00099-2) (PMID:34166629)

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Sexual health has provided a guiding framework for addressing sexuality in public health for several decades. Although the WHO definition of sexual health is revolutionary in acknowledging positive sexuality, public health approaches remain focused on risk and adverse outcomes. The long-standing conflation of sexual health and sexual wellbeing has affected our ability to address everyday sexual issues. This Viewpoint provides a way forward to resolve this impasse. We propose sexual wellbeing as a distinct and revolutionary concept that can be operationalised as a seven-domain model. We situate sexual wellbeing alongside sexual health, sexual justice, and sexual pleasure as one of four pillars of public health enquiry. We argue that sexual wellbeing is imperative to public health as a marker of health equity, a meaningful population indicator of wellbeing, a means to capture population trends distinct from sexual health, and an opportunity to refocus the ethics, form, and practices of public health.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:We thank the Fourth British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes (Natsal-4). The Natsal Resource is supported by a grant from the Wellcome Trust (212931/Z/18/Z), with contributions from the Economic and Social Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research. KRM and RL are supported by core funding from the UK Medical Research Council [MC_UU_00022/3] and Scotland Chief Scientist Office (SPHSU18).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mitchell, Professor Kirstin and Lewis, Dr Ruth
Authors: Mitchell, K., Lewis, R., O'Sullivan, L. F., and Fortenberry, J. D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Lancet Public Health
ISSN (Online):2468-2667
Published Online:21 June 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Lancet Public Health 6(8): e608-e613
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
3048230031Relationships and healthKirstin MitchellMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/3HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048230081Relationships and healthKirstin MitchellOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU18HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit