Sex Education Tool Betters Reproductive Health Knowledge Among Adolescent Girls

In a new study, the researchers maintained that sex education tools improved reproductive health knowledge scores and measures of self-efficacy among adolescent girls.

 The study by researchers at the University published last month in Education found that sexual health knowledge scores on a validated scale increased among participants. This happened along with improved measures of self-efficacy regarding birth control, healthy relationships and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention.

The research found a greater proportion of participants having improved confidence in obtaining birth control, recognising an unhealthy relationship and testing for STIs. 

THE FINDINGS

In the study, 30.3 percent reported they had never had sex education classes in school. Study participants overwhelmingly favoured the online curriculum. About 94% said the information was presented in a way that was easy to understand. Meanwhile 93.9% reported they would recommend the website to a friend. 

THE METHOD

The researchers conducted a baseline assessment of sexual health knowledge among adolescent females aged 14 to 18. The participants answered questions about experiences with school sex education programs and self-efficacy. They then completed the online curriculum available at www.marshallteentalk.org. It covered a range of sexual health topics presented through short, animated videos. After this, the researchers reassessed participants’ sexual health knowledge, along with the same measures of self-efficacy.

“Adolescents use websites and social media for sexual health information. Therefore, there is a great need for accurate, evidence-based online reproductive health tools,” said Marshall Health Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecologist Jennie L. Yoost. She is an associate professor at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and senior author of the study. “Marshall Teen Talk was designed specifically to provide local adolescents an accessible and accurate resource for reproductive health. This study validates the website as an effective teaching tool.”

In addition to Yoost, the research team included Dani Roth, Emma Nellhaus, M.D.Morgan Ruley, Ariana Hess and RajanLamichhane. The team will expand future studies to include male and nonbinary adolescents. They would also include partnerships with teachers, a release said. As adolescents in rural areas are less likely to seek out sexual health services, this website can also potentially serve the community by linking individuals to specific health resources and clinical needs.  

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