This answer discusses the various definitions of sexual health, and the methods that can be used to research these.
How do I appraise the social, political, economic and environmental factors that impact upon sexual health and their subsequent influence upon patients within a community setting?
Sexual health is a complicated concept, and can be defined differently depending on the context. From a medical perspective sexual health relates to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and promotion of safer sex. The social perspective frames sexual health as the participation in an active and rewarding sex life, but can differ from culture to culture. Whilst the political viewpoint will discuss sexual health with respect to reproductive rights and access to a diverse and inclusive sexual education.
To adequately appraise the impact that various factors will have on the sexual health of an individual or community a review of literature can be carried out. There will be a wealth of literature available on the social factors that affect sexual health, however other factors are more difficult to study. The environmental impacts on sexual activity and health will often be modified or amplified by psycho-social factors. Political and economic factors are harder still to analyse, but can be assessed in terms of government policies with relation to sexual education in schools and campaigns aimed at increased awareness of STDs and safe sex practices in the general public.
In order to gain a full understanding of the influence upon patients within a community it may be necessary to carry out primary research. A questionnaire or interview process could be used to assess the sexual health of patients in a local area. Alternatively, in depth case studies could be carried out where there is a wealth of research already available to the researcher.