By Jane Meyrick
The Sexual Health and Well Being Interest Group #SHWIG @SHWIG is a group of researchers planning and doing research on sexual health, well-being and sexual violence. @SHWIG is a special interest group within the Psychological Science Research Group @PSRG at UWE.
Sexual health/well-being cuts across many aspects of our lives including relationships, behaviour and families as well as societal level issues of freedom, identity and inequalities.
In a time when clinical sexual health services have been cut to the bone and work focused on test, trace and treat, preserving the wider prevention and health promotion roles within sexual health/well-being has become even more important.
Applied research on sexual health and well-being and its impact on the real world is fundamental to our work and highlights the inequalities and civil rights barriers we see evidenced in higher rates of Sexually Transmitted Infection and HIV for racially marginalised groups, sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement and the evolution of reproductive freedoms through greater access to abortion.
Our group works across academic disciplines around these issues. What is the balance between harm and good and patterns of power and structural inequality? How does this shape freedom of identity and sexual identity; what is societies’ contribution to driving sexual violence via restrictive social and gender norms of what it is to be a ‘real man’. What is the contribution of informal sources of education such as porn on and how do sexual identities change? How is this reflected in the growth of online transactional sex?
@SHWIG is bringing all of these issues together under the virtual umbrella of a research into practice orientated, interest group based in a digital space, the @SHWIG #SHWIG lives on twitter and is housed within the Psychological Research Group at the University of the West of England, intersecting with the Sexual Violence Research Network also at UWE.
Lead by @DrJaneMeyrick, a health psychologist and public health specialist, we are a crosscutting multidisciplinary group of researchers and research informed practitioners. Contributors work across sexual health services, outreach, abortion services, criminal justice, sex work support, sex education development, sexual violence prevention and specialist services, all of which speak to this wider agenda. We have launched this online interest group to support the interaction of disciplines around these key topics and we hope to share cutting edge research webinars/podcasts/twitter conversations in order to showcase members research and promote transition to real world change. Innovative work underway includes interviews with black men in London around sexual health; the support needs of sex workers and patient voice lead transformation of abortion care. But we also want to reach out and create bigger networks with those sharing our interest, for example, disclosure of sexual violence and abuse in universities and sexual health services is a piece of work which connects higher education, sexual health and specialist sexual violence counselling services.
We want to share the learning and to grow the knowledge through understanding from multiple disciplinary viewpoints.
We bring important tools to bear on this topic starting from a public health perspective of prevention and harm reduction, using concepts of prevalence, (what is the size of the problem), employing the evidence base, (what has been shown to work best). Finally framing this, within a wider ecological model of how we understand the world that maps issues onto the individual, family, community and society that determine them.
So welcome to the SHWIG!
- Join our hashtag #SHWIG
- Find us online by joining our Twitter feed @SHWIG (our word cloud above shows you themes from our conversations)
- And come to our first webinar on the health needs of sex workers
The webinar recording is now available here: https://vimeo.com/489350914