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Promoting Women's Sexual Wellness Using Comprehensive, Rights-Based Adult Sexuality Education

Research Team


Principal Investigator: Dena Abbott

Funding Information

Funding Agency: Office of Research and Economic Development—Layman Award

Award Date: Aug 1, 2022

End Date: Jul 31, 2023


In the U.S., a sex-negative culture leads to limited access to comprehensive sexuality education and negative sexual and reproductive health outcomes among women. Although mental health professionals trained in holistic wellness, advocacy and the culture-health connection make a cogent fit to address sexual and reproductive health inequities, access to resources needed to provide effective sexual wellness support is limited. 

This project is designed to promote healthy, positive sexuality and reduce sexual and reproductive health outcome inequities by increasing sexuality competence among mental health professionals. It will be the first to utilize adult sexuality education as a mechanism to promote sexual wellness among women. 

During the 2022-23 academic year, Abbott and a team of doctoral students in counseling psychology will adapt and facilitate a sexuality education course designed for young adults. With undergraduate participants, this pilot study will test how — if at all — adult-focused, comprehensive, rights-based sexuality education influences college women’s sexual attitudes and sexual self-concept. 

“Our Whole Lives,” an adult sexuality curriculum, will be adapted into a short-term intervention to explore its efficacy in increasing positive attitudes about sexuality and improving sexual self-concept. High sexual self-concept and positive attitudes about sexuality foster safer and more positive sexual experiences, increasing sexual wellness. 

Results will inform the use of “Our Whole Lives” by mental health professionals to promote sexual wellness in their communities.

Social, Emotional and Behavioral Well-being