Sexual health is a fundamental aspect for well-being and quality of life, both at individual and relational levels. However, there are several factors that can be obstacles and affect this fullness. Age and some chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular episodes or cancer, can often affect people’s intimate and sexual lives. Among other advantages, sexual health support programmes delivered through digital technology open up the possibility for people to receive support remotely. This was the theme that served as a motto for the webinar that took place on Monday, April 19, and which brought together international experts.
The program included the Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS (FhP-AICOS) researcher, Ana Correia de Barros, the psychologist Gerhard Andersson, the researcher and designer Britta F. Schulte, the specialist in intimacy and sexuality in nursing homes, Noëlle Sant and the psychologist and sexologist at the Borobil Sexological Center, Estela Buendía.
This webinar marked the kick-off of the Anathema, a European project for the promotion of sexual health, coordinated by FhP-AICOS research centre and which aims to develop a digital platform and a mobile application as a way to implement sexual health promotion programs, according to a plan outlined in conjunction with psychologists, sexologists and other specialists. The technology will be designed to meet the needs of people over 55 years of age, including those with chronic diseases, starting with the cases of stroke survivors and colorectal cancer patients.
The project coordinator, Ana Correia de Barros (FhP-AICOS) stated: “All Anathema partners were eager to start this innovative project and most of the meeting time was devoted to working sessions. Co-located with the meeting, Anathema hosted a webinar with four external guests. The webinar allowed us to learn more, be inspired, and discuss ideas to be developed during the project.”
Anathema’s goal is to adapt traditional face-to-face sexual health promotion interventions, turning to digital technologies, including mobile devices, making them inclusive and engaging for older adults and their partners. The project has started in April 2021 and will last for 24 months. During this period, pilot studies are planned – to be developed in Portugal, Austria and the Netherlands – that will allow to evaluate and measure the usability and acceptance of the technology, the effectiveness of the program in promoting positive sexual health, as well as test business models and analyse the feasibility of transferring this solution to the market.
The project will be developed by FhP-AICOS in partnership with other national and international institutions, namely SexLab, Instahelp, SPRIGS, UnieKBO, as well as with the support of Europacolon and IPO-Porto.