Anathema will be the first smartphone-delivered sexual health promotion programme that seeks to adapt traditional face-to-face interventions for older adults, people with chronic diseases, and their partners.

Through the benefits of mobile devices and interaction design for individuals and couples, Anathema seeks to increase patients’ adherence and, additionally, to extend the number of people who can access sexual health support while making its design highly usable, engaging and non-stigmatizing so that users adhere and experience its benefits.

Clare & Martin’s Love Story

Clare is out, on a Saturday morning, when her phone vibrates with a notification — you’re being teased by Martin. She smiles and heads home. They met when Clare was training to become a chef in Amsterdam. They fell in love instantly. After a life of travelling the world, witnessing the 60s-70s sexual revolution and growing three children who have their own families, they are as in love as ever, and now they can date again. Martin’s stroke almost got in the way at first. While he was able to recover most functions, their sexual and intimate life was affected, and they felt this was affecting their wellbeing and relationship satisfaction. First, they tried looking online for information, but there were too many conflicting views. Until one day, Clare saw an enigmatic ad for a new app called Anathema. Intrigued by it, she did an online search and learned that it had been built through a scientific method, and she and Martin could download it, on their smartphones. They also had contacts of psychologists for more personalised support. An intervention only lasted five weeks, so they decided to give it a try and immediately started learning about sex-related myths, anatomy, sexual health and different ways of exploring and promoting it. Despite well-educated, they were astonished at how much they had to learn about their bodies. Surprised by rich graphics, an engaging user experience, they also had fun interacting with their partner’s phone (almost like a game). Easy ways to register thoughts on their homework assignments and visualisations of their progress kept them motivated to carry on. Though this was one year ago, the teasing continues…


Anathema will create an inclusive and engaging Internet-delivered sexual health promotion programme for older adults and demonstrate how it can be tailored to address prevalent diseases in older age which directly affect sexual health: stroke, due to EU’s wide prevalence and vast debilitating effects and colorectal cancer, an edge case of possible changes to body image, especially in colostomized patients, whom might be challenging to approach on this matter. By demonstrating success with these user groups, Anathema will gain notoriety, trustworthiness and a solid track record that can enable it to reach other chronic conditions and sexually diverse groups.


Participatory Design

Anathema will count on involving older adults, colorectal cancer survivors, stroke survivors, psychologists and sexologists, care managers and clinical institutions in all project stages through a Participatory Design approach.


Positive Health

Addressing the innovative topic of sexual health, Anathema adopts a positive health approach, focusing on positive and pleasurable experiences rather than disability or sexual dysfunction. The European dimension of the project is crucial, given that sexual expression is strongly culturally rooted.


To design online sexual health interventions

Supporting both in-person and remote consultations, relevant in the context of COVID-19 and the needs of people who live geographically isolated.


To overcome sexual healthcare-seeking barriers

Imperative to promote and support older adults’ sexual quality of life and satisfaction, “positive sex life” and healthy ageing.


To develop a discrete and ubiquitous sexual health companion to overcome stigma and embarrassment

Facilitate sexual health programme delivery, promote sexual health and, subsequently, relationship satisfaction, improving Anathema’s primary end-users’ quality of life.


To deploy an evidence-based and convenient tool for psychologists/ sexologists

With potential to improve healthcare outcomes and increase business size.