Computer-based interventions for sexual health promotion: systematic review and meta-analyses

Int J STD AIDS. 2012 Jun;23(6):408-13. doi: 10.1258/ijsa.2011.011221.


This systematic review was conducted to determine the effects of self-help interactive computer-based interventions (ICBIs) for sexual health promotion. We searched 40 databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of computer-based interventions, defining 'interactive' as programmes that require contributions from users to produce personally relevant material. We conducted searches and analysed data using Cochrane Collaboration methods. Results of RCTs were pooled using a random-effects model with standardized mean differences for continuous outcomes and odds ratios (ORs) for binary outcomes, with heterogeneity assessed using the I(2) statistic. We identified 15 RCTs of ICBIs (3917 participants). Comparing ICBIs to minimal interventions, there were significant effects on sexual health knowledge (standardized mean difference [SMD] 0.72, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.27-1.18); safer sex self-efficacy (SMD 0.17, 95% CI 0.05-0.29); safer-sex intentions (SMD 0.16, 95% CI 0.02-0.30); and sexual behaviour (OR 1.75, 95% CI 1.18-2.59). ICBIs had a greater impact on sexual health knowledge than face-to-face interventions did (SMD 0.36, 95% CI 0.13-0.58). ICBIs are effective tools for learning about sexual health, and show promising effects on self-efficacy, intention and sexual behaviour. More data are needed to analyse biological outcomes and cost-effectiveness.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / methods*
  • Early Medical Intervention / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Promotion / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Software*