Designing sexual health services for young people: a methodology for capturing the user voice

S Jerome, Carolyn Hicks, S Herron-Marx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the study was to assess the suitability of the Thurstone paired comparison method for capturing the user voice, through a survey of young people's views on the most salient priorities for a sexual health service. A convenience sample of 161 12-24 year olds was used. A psychometrically robust questionnaire was developed from a review of the relevant literature and from the information provided by three focus groups. The data derived from both stages were distilled into seven themes, and adapted to a Thurstone paired comparison format, in which each theme was paired with every other theme, with an 8-point scale between each pairing (21 pairings in total). Respondents were required to indicate their preference for one theme over the other in each pairing. The questionnaire was completed by 161 young people between April and July 2007, and the results were analysed using the Kendall coefficient of concordance to establish the degree of within-group agreement. The results suggested that there was significant agreement as to the essential desirable features of a sexual health service, both within the whole sample as well as within sub-samples (i.e. gender, age group and previous sexual health service use). The priorities were privacy, and a dedicated service close to home, with a drop-in facility and male and female staff being next most important, and an informal service and young staff being lowest priorities. The feedback from the pilot study, the 40% return and absence of spoiled questionnaires together indicated that the respondents found the method acceptable, while the actual findings corroborated those from other studies. Taken together, these results suggest that the Thurstone method offers a quick and simple method of capturing the user voice, with the results having sufficient validity to inform the planning of a local sexual health service.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-357
Number of pages8
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2009


  • sexual health
  • user voice
  • paired comparison
  • young people


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