The National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal)


  • Dr Catherine Mercer

    University College London, United Kingdom

Project summary

Sex education can positively impact upon sexual behaviour and reduce the likelihood of adverse sexual health outcomes, but the quality of provision and coverage of topics is variable. There is a need for evidence-based ways to improve knowledge of sex and relationships that speak to people across the lifecourse and from all walks-of-life. Uniting internationally-recognised scientists in sexology, epidemiology, and education, with the UK's leading charities (Brook and the Sex Education Forum) promoting young people's sexual health and the delivery of quality life-long relationship and sex education (RSE), we will use creative arts and online technologies to produce innovative resources that meet this need.

Evidence from Britain's nationally-representative sexual health survey (the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, (Natsal) and our previous public engagement will be used:

(i) to create a free-to-use interactive online resource for the general public, allowing exploration as to what is 'normal', the factors that shape sexual lifestyles, and the underpinning scientific research;

(ii) as a catalyst to facilitate dialogue with and between young people on issues around sex that matter to them. This young people-centred learning will be translated into resources to better equip teachers to deliver RSE, crucially coinciding with the introduction of mandatory RSE in schools in England (2020) and Wales (2022).

These evidence-based tools will empower people of all ages to improve their knowledge of sex and relationships, their sexual health and wellbeing. They will also demonstrate proof-of-concept around novel mechanisms for engaging the public with Natsal and science more broadly.