The concept of empowerment in sexual health is widely used in health promotion. This scoping review aims to identify how it is defined and measured. PubMed, Sage Journals, PsycInfo and the Web of Science are data sources. The inclusion criteria for studies were as follows: (1) an analysis of empowerment in sexual health, (2) quantitative evaluation and (3) publication in a peer-reviewed journal in French or English since January 1996. Data were extracted using a summary table of the definitions and indicators of empowerment in sexual health. Of the 2181 articles found, 29 met the inclusion criteria. Only 4 studies on 29 clearly defined empowerment in sexual health. Five dimensions emerged from the indicators used in the 29 studies in relation to sexual empowerment (social participation, participation in decision making, power to act, sexual health knowledge and gender norms), with two types of indicators: indicators unspecific to sexual health, which can be viewed as empowerment basic skills, and indicators specific to sexual health. Most studies concerned women and focused on individual empowerment, with a lack of measure of collective and structural levels of empowerment. Despite great heterogeneity in the definitions and indicators used, a set of core indicators emerged: participation in decision making, sexual negotiation power and sexual communication skills, knowledge and use of contraceptive methods, and HIV and sexually transmitted infections risk perception. This set could be systematically used in each study based on sexual empowerment concept, completed by supplementary indicators considering the specific context.

Empowerment is at the heart of health promotion. The concept of empowerment in sexual health has been increasingly used in the field of health promotion, but there is a lack of a consensual definition and great heterogeneity in the indicators used to assess that concept and measure it, according to targeted populations and cultural contexts. In this scoping review on how empowerment in sexual health is defined and measured, five dimensions emerged: social participation, participation in decision making, power to act, sexual health knowledge and gender norms. Through these dimensions, two types of indicators were collected: indicators unspecific to sexual health, which can be viewed as empowerment basic skills, and indicators specific to sexual health. Despite great heterogeneity in the definitions and indicators used, a set of core indicators emerged: participation in decision making, sexual negotiation power and sexual communication skills, knowledge and use of contraceptive methods, and HIV and sexually transmitted infections risk perception. For future research, this set could be systematically used in each study based on sexual empowerment concept, and should be completed by supplementary indicators considering the specific context.

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