Sexual Health and Ageing, Perspectives and Education (SHAPE) Project

Project Details

Despite evidence that sexual activity enhances physical and mental health as we age, little research has explored how sexual health and ageing is managed in primary care. Some evidence shows healthcare practitioners (HCPs) think sexual health is not a ‘legitimate’ topic to discuss with older patients.  Conversely, other evidence indicates that older patients wait for HCPs to introduce the topic, suggesting older adults are not receiving the appropriate management.  This is concerning given the fifty percent increase in sexually transmitted infection rates in the over-60s in the last five years and growing rates of sexual dysfunction associated with chronic diseases increasing age.

The SHAPE project investigates the barriers and facilitators to sexual health discussions occurring from the perspective of both the HCPs and older patients.  It will also assesses the feasibility of developing a communication support resource to help facilitate sexual health discussions occuring.

A project website has been set up at


Jane Hocking, Principal Researcher

Meredith Temple-Smith, Co-Researcher

Adrian Bickerstaffe, Co-Researcher

Sue Malta, Co-Researcher and Project Coordinator


National Ageing Research Institute (NARI)

Royal Women’s Hospital

Andrology Australia

Council on the Ageing

Women’s Health in the South East


University of Melbourne, Hallmark Ageing Research Initiative (HARI)

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to Honours students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Publications

Malta S, Temple-Smith M, Hocking J & Bickerstaffe A. It takes two to tango: discussing sexual health with older patients in primary care. On Line Opinion 2016; December 19.

Research Group

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Disparities, disadvantage and effective health care, Screening and early detection of disease

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics

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