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[Research Report] Developing a Comprehensive Health Education Program for University Students and Program Effectiveness Survey Results (July 20, 2020)

[Research Report] Developing a Comprehensive Health Education Program for University Students and Program Effectiveness Survey Results (July 20, 2020)

HGPI published a report summarizing key findings of “Developing a Comprehensive Health Education Program for University Students and Program Effectiveness Survey Results”.

For young people in their adolescent years, acquiring correct knowledge on reproductive health and the ability to think or act autonomously is important for protecting health and independently developing life plans. This is particularly important during the period immediately after graduating high school, not only for building familiarity with reproductive health and developing an awareness of reproductive health as a topic that directly concerns oneself, but also because it is a period for planning future career development and potential life plans for after joining the workforce. However, even though sex education in Japan is provided by secondary school, it has been criticized for being too limited in scope, for not providing enough of the knowledge needed, and for not developing adequate decision-making ability.

To response to this situation, Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI) designed a comprehensive health education curriculum for university students in FY2019 after referring to various guidelines such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education, which is the international standard for comprehensive sex education, and after gathering the opinions of specialists in various fields. We then held an educational intervention for 230 university students at three universities based on that curriculum. At the same time, we conducted a quantitative online survey to measure the effectiveness of the program.

The results of the survey showed that university students who attended the comprehensive health education program provided by midwives have various pressing needs and suggested that such programs can cause changes in awareness or behavior towards reproductive health among university students. At the same time, it highlighted various hurdles faced by university students, such as a lack of knowledge concerning reproductive health, the occurrence of sexual violence or non-consensual sexual situations, a lack of people to consult on reproductive health, and the difficulty of seeking examinations from OB/GYNs.


■ Key findings

The need for educational opportunities among university students

  • Almost all (97%) of participants said they believe university students require comprehensive health education.
  • Around 87% of the university students said they think comprehensive health education programs should be included in university orientation and that all students should take them.


Improving literacy and changing beliefs and behaviors

  Sexually-transmitted Diseases (STDs)

  • Approximately 86% of respondents thought their previous knowledge about STDs was incorrect.
  • Three months after the lectures, almost a third (29%) of university students said they had changed their behavior towards STD prevention as a result of the midwives’ comprehensive health education program.

  Sexual Violence and Sexual Consent

  • About 42% of university students reported that they have encountered sexual violence or a situation in which the right to sexual consent was not respected.
  • Three months after the comprehensive health education program provided by midwives, approximately 19% of university students reported that they changed the way they respond to sexual violence or situations in which the right to sexual consent is not respected.

  Receiving Examinations from Obstetricians and Gynecologists

  • After the program, around 62% of university students reported that they considered seeking an examination from an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) as a result of the program.


■ Opinions After Reviewing Survey Results: Three Opinions and Specific Measures to Promote in the Future

Opinion 1 – Comprehensive childhood health education programs must be introduced or improved and opportunities for university students to receive comprehensive health education must be created

  • Measures to introduce or improve comprehensive childhood health education are necessary
  • Opportunities should be created for students at educational institutions (universities, etc.) to attend comprehensive health education programs made for students

Opinion 2 – Comprehensive health education programs and methods to deliver them must be developed and professionals who can provide them must be trained

  • Use educational programs based on guidelines that meet international standards
  • Develop external human resources that can implement comprehensive health education programs and promote cooperation between fields

Opinion 3 – Frameworks that connect students to counseling services and healthcare institutions must be built

  • Places where young people can readily access counseling should be established
  • Frameworks that match students with counseling services or healthcare institutions should be built


■ Project team:
Core team
(Titles omitted; in alphabetical order by last name)
Shiori Arima (Associate, HGPI)
Yuko Imamura (Manager, HGPI)
Hiromi Iwai (Intern, HGPI)
Kenji Kawabata (Adjunct Lecturer, Tokyo University of Science)
Yukiko Kawada (Intern, HGPI)
Yui Kohno (Associate, HGPI)
Akane Koyama (Intern, HGPI)
Eri Yoshimura (Senior Manager, HGPI)

(Titles omitted; in alphabetical order by last name)
Kunio Kitamura (President, Japan Family Planning Association)
Taeko Mori (Director, Mori Midwife Center)
Tomiko Okamoto (President, Midwifery Department, Japan Midwives Association; President, Okamoto Maternity Center, UPAUPAHOUSE okamotojosanin)
Sachiko Takahashi (Assistant Professor, Saitama Medical University)
Kazue Yoshino (Director, Tokyo Association Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Director, Yoshino Women’s Clinic)

■financial support
The Nippon Foundation

■ Contact
Health and Global Policy Institute (Imamura)

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