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Promoting Sexual Health for People with Serious Mental Illness


The overall aim of the Clinical Research Groups (CRGs) is to identify key priorities for research in this area, and write proposals for NIHR grants that aim (by different methods) to promote sexual health in people with severe mental illness (SMI). Severe mental illnesses include psychoses, bipolar affective and schizoaffective disorders.

Why the topic is of major clinical importance

Evidence suggests that sexual health of people with SMI is poor, yet this has received no research attention in the UK [1]. There are several areas of concern:

  • high levels of exploitation and violence)[2] 
  • stigma and its influence on relationship choices [3]
  • an elevated risk of HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and other STI infection [4]
  • risk of un-planned pregnancy (whilst rates of pregnancy is lower than general population, the rate of un-planned pregnancy is higher)[5] 
  • the relationship between substance misuse, SMI and sexual health [6]
  • sexual side-effects (anti-psychotic medication is related to erectile dysfunction, anorgasmia, lactation, amenorrhea)[7].


The first six months of the project will be used to identify and prioritise areas for research. This will be done by service user and public consultation, as well as CRG members meetings. The second phase of the project will be to develop protocols, identify potential funding sources and develop grant applications.



Funder(s): NIHR MHRN
Start Date: 01-May-2013
Expiry Date: 31-Mar-2015


Internal staff

External collaborators

  • Dr Peter Phillips (City University)
  • Professor Sonia Johnson (UCL)
  • Dr Cath Mercer (UCL)
  • Dr Fiona Nolan (UCL, NHS)
  • Professor Louise Howard (KCL)
  • Professor Jackie Cassell (BSMS)
  • Dr Carrie Llewellyn (BSMS)
  • Dr Gail Gilchrist (University of Greenwich)

Mental Health and Addiction Research in the Department of Health Sciences