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. 2006;20(3):233-41.
doi: 10.1207/s15327027hc2003_3.

Review of Interactive Safer Sex Web Sites: Practice and Potential


Review of Interactive Safer Sex Web Sites: Practice and Potential

Seth M Noar et al. Health Commun. .


The Internet is increasingly being viewed as a health promotion tool with enormous potential. However, this potential cannot be realized if Web sites do not utilize the features that make the Internet a "hybrid" mass and interpersonal communication medium. The purpose of this study was to examine interactive safer sex Web sites on a number of dimensions. A comprehensive search that included Internet search engines, links from well-known sites, and previously published reviews yielded 21 Web sites that met criteria. Web sites were coded on dimensions including targeting of the Web sites, safer sex messages presented, theoretical strategies utilized, interactivity, and other characteristics. Results indicate that a moderate amount of targeting of Web sites exists, especially on age group (e.g., teenagers); the most prevalent safer sex messages were to "use condoms" and "be sexually abstinent"; raising the perceived threat of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV was the most prevalent theoretical strategy used to motivate safer sex; and finally, a moderate amount of interactivity was found on the Web sites, with most Web sites containing 4 or 5 features out of 15 features examined. Evidence that Web sites were tailoring information or messages to individuals was not found. Implications of these results for improving safer sex Web sites and developing interventions online are discussed.

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