Study Information

Below you will find a reproduction of the information to be given to all prospective participants within the study. It will tell you everything you will need to know in order to decide whether to take part.


Title of the study: ‘Women online; what has the internet meant for adult women’s sexual identities?’ 

You are invited to take part in the above named study. Before you decide if you want to take part it is important to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve.

Please take time to read the following information carefully. If there is anything that is not clear or if you would like more information please contact me or my supervisors, our details are at the end of this form.

Take time to decide whether or not to take part and thank you for your consideration.

What is the purpose of this study?

The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences of the women who have lived through their adolescence offline and now are adults within a digitally connected world. The study aims to explore what relationship if any exists between what a woman does online and how she views her own sexual identity. For the purpose of this study the researcher uses the term sexual identity to describe how a women might view herself as a sexual being and could be said to include the following

  • Sexual preferences / likes and dislikes
  • Confidence in communicating sexual preferences
  • Perception of the importance of sex within a woman’s life
  • Concepts of normality and where a woman feels her behaviour and preferences fit within her own concept
  • Sexual orientation 
Why I have been chosen?

You have been chosen to take part because you are a woman over the age of 35 and have indicated that you spend time online.

Do I have to take part? 

There is no obligation to participate. It is up to you to decide whether or not to take part. If you wish to take part you will be given this information sheet to keep and be asked to sign a consent form. If you do decide to participate you are still free to withdraw at any time without giving a reason.

What will happen to me if I take part? 

You will be interviewed by Sheena MacRae (researcher) to share your experience. For this I will ask for your permission to audiotape the interview, which will last for between 60 to 90 minutes

What do I have to do? 

If you decide to participate you will attend for the interview at a convenient time arranged for you, to take place in the Department of Health and Social Care, within the grounds of the University of Hull.

What is being discussed? 

You will be invited to share your experience regarding the topics of the study namely your online life and sexual identity. The interview will be completed in a flexible manner to suit your particular responses. The conversation will be recorded for analysis but it will not be made available to anybody except Sheena MacRae (researcher) and her supervisors. The recordings will be destroyed as soon as transcription and analysis is finished. You will be given the opportunity to see and approve the transcribed interview if you wish to confirm this represents what you said at interview.

What will I be asked?

To give you an idea of the nature of the study the following are sample questions taken from the initial interview schedule. 

  1. How would you describe yourself as a sexual person? 
  2. Have you ever used the internet for sexual purpose? For example viewing imagery, information about sex, meeting partners?

Please note the nature of this research means the questions are subject to change but the questions above do give a good indication of the discussion likely to be entered into in the interview.

What are possible disadvantages and risk of taking part in the study? 

As the study aims to achieve a better understanding of the experiences women online as regards their sexual lives it is not expected that any participants will be disadvantaged by taking part. It is recognised however that the subject matter of the study is intimate and participants should remember that they can stop the interview at any point should they feel the need to do so.

The study is intended to give women the opportunity to think about and discuss their sexual identity in a safe space, free from judgement. The researcher has a background in social care and has worked extensively around issues of sexual health and emotional wellbeing and will endeavour to enable participants to discuss their personal experiences in a way that is comfortable to them. A list of supporting services will be made available to all participants, should matters arise which cause them concern, and the researcher will respond to any questions regarding participants responses after interviews take place and will remove participants data from the study after interview should this be requested. 

What are the possible benefits of taking part?

Hopefully taking part in this research can be seen as an opportunity for you to assess your own sexual identity and from this point it might enable you to gain confidence in your sexual self or perhaps highlight issues you never thought of specifically before. Think of the interview as a way to air your views in way that you do not have to edit yourself. The more honest you are about feelings and experiences relating to the topics of online life and sexual identity the better for the research. Having taught sex and relationship education in schools and teaching adults around sexuality there are not many topics in relation to sexuality and relationships that the researcher has not worked with so please be as open as you can.

The main thing the study aims to do is develop theory which could be subsequently used in a therapeutic context with other women and as such it is hoped that you as a participant could see this as a secondary benefit to taking part by contributing to other women’s lives in a positive manner. It is hoped this study will engage with women who will come to see themselves as the pioneers of the digital world that they are. 

Will my taking part in this study be kept confidential? 

Information which is collected about you during the course of the study will be kept strictly confidential. Any information about you and the data you will provide will be anonymised so that you will not be identified in any way. As with any confidentiality policy however there are limits with regard to disclosures with legal implications. If you inform the researcher of activity linked to a criminal offence you have committed or intend to commit the interview would cease and this information would be passed to relevant authorities. In no other instance however would this occur.

What will happen to the results of the study? 

The anonymous results will be used as part of the fulfilment of my PhD study and conference presentations. It will also be used for publication so that a wider audience will be informed of the findings.

Who is organising the research? 

The research is being conducted by Sheena MacRae a postgraduate student researcher towards a PhD at the University of Hull, in the Faculty of Health and Social Care within the Maternal, Reproductive, Relationships and Sexual Health Research group. Sheena has a background in sexual health promotion within the NHS, and has provided training to wide range of groups from young people to professionals around a range of topics relating to health, as well as client centred work in social care settings.

Who has reviewed the study?

The Ethics Committee within the Faculty of Health and Social Care of the University of Hull have reviewed and approved the study.

You will be given a copy of this information sheet and your signed consent form to keep

Contact for further information

Sheena MacRae
Postgraduate Student Researcher
The Maternal, Reproductive and Sexual Health Research Development Group
Department of Health Technology and Perioperative Practice
Faculty of Health and Social Care
University of Hull

Principal Supervisor

Professor Mark Hayter PhD, Ba (Hons) MMedSci, RN, Cert Ed, FAAN
Professor of Sexual and Reproductive Health
Head of Department of Nursing
Editor; Journal of Advanced Nursing
Faculty of Health and Social Care
The University of Hull
Cottingham Road
Tel +44 (0)1482 463179

Co- Supervisor

Dr Angela Poat RM, RN, BA, Med, PgCTLTM, PhD
Midwifery Lecturer
Faculty of Health and Social Care
The University of Hull
Cottingham Road
Tel +44 (0)1482 464696