The International Sexual Health And Reproductive Health Survey (I-SHARE-1): A Multi-Country Analysis of Adults from 30 Countries Prior to and During the Initial COVID-19 Wave

Gunta Lazdane, I-SHARE research consortium

Research output: Working paperPreprint


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic forced billions of people to shelter in place, altering social and sexual relationships worldwide. In many settings, COVID-19 threatened already precarious health services. However, there is limited evidence to date about changes to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) during the initial wave of COVID-19 disease. To address this gap, our team organized a multi-country, cross-sectional online survey as part of a global consortium.

Methods: Consortium research teams conducted online surveys in 30 countries. Sampling methods included convenience, online panels, and population-representative. Primary outcomes included sexual behaviors, partner violence, and SRH service utilization, and we compared three months prior to and three months after policy measures to mitigate COVID-19. We used established indicators and analyses pre-specified in our protocol. We conducted meta-analyses for primary outcomes and graded the certainty of the evidence using Cochrane methods. Descriptive analyses included 22,724 individuals in 25 countries. Five additional countries with sample sizes <200 were included in descriptive meta-analyses.

Results: Respondents were mean age 34 years; most identified as women (15160; 66.7%), cis-gender (19432; 86.6%) and heterosexual (16592; 77.9%). Among 4546 respondents with casual partners, condom use stayed the same for 3374 (74.4%) people and 640 (14.1%) people reported a decline. Fewer respondents reported physical or sexual partner violence during COVID-19 measures (1063/15144, 7.0%) compared to the period before COVID-19 measures (1469/15887, 9.3%). COVID-19 measures impeded access to condoms (933/10790, 8.7%), contraceptives (610/8175, 7.5%), and HIV/STI testing (750/1965, 30.7%). Pooled estimates from meta-analysis indicate during COVID-19 measures, 32.3% (95% CI 23.9-42.1) of people needing HIV/STI testing had hindered access, 4.4% (95% CI 3.4-5.4) experienced partner violence, and 5.8% (95% CI 5.4-8.2) decreased casual partner condom use (moderate certainty of evidence for each outcome). Meta-analysis findings were robust in sensitivity analyses that examined country income level, sample size, and sampling strategy.

Conclusion: Open science methods are feasible to organize research studies as part of emergency responses. The initial COVID-19 wave impacted SRH behaviors and access to services across diverse global settings.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2021

Publication series

NamemedRxiv : the preprint server for health sciences


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • sexual and reproductive health

Field of Science*

  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type*

  • 3.1. Articles or chapters in proceedings/scientific books indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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