Int J Adolesc Med Health 2015 Sep 11

The effectiveness of an adolescent reproductive health education intervention in Uganda

Wolf HT, Teich HG, Halpern-Felsher BL, Murphy RJ, Anandaraja N, Stone J and Kalumuna C

Abstract: Ugandan adolescents lack sufficient reproductive health knowledge, which accounts in part for the staggering rates of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted (STI) infections in this population. This study aimed to (1) examine Ugandan adolescents' baseline STI and contraceptive knowledge; (2) determine whether this knowledge varies by demographic factors, prior sexual experience or school grade; and (3) evaluate the effectiveness of an educational program to increase and retain STI and contraceptive knowledge among Ugandan adolescents. This study surveyed 129 adolescents (ages 15-19) regarding knowledge of STIs and contraceptive methods at schools and community non-governmental organizations at three time points. Findings demonstrated that at baseline the mean test scores for contraceptive knowledge and STI knowledge were 44% and 72%, respectively. Participants in higher secondary school grade-levels had greater odds of having prior STI knowledge (OR=19.6, 95% CI 2.0-187.6); participants who had previously engaged in sex had greater odds of having prior contraceptive knowledge (OR=4.62, 95% CI 1.45-14.72). A higher grade level was not associated with better knowledge of contraception; and being sexually active was not associated with better knowledge of STI information. Participants' knowledge of STIs and contraceptives improved after the education session (p<0.001), and knowledge was retained 3-weeks later (p<0.001). Findings suggest that Ugandan adolescents do not have adequate education regarding contraceptive methods and that implementation of reproductive health modules by an outside party can be effective in improving knowledge.

Comment: While we often assume that adolescents know a lot about sexuality, STIs and contraceptives, this study from Uganda shows this not to be the case. There is an important role for teachers and parents to close the gap! (HMV).