What is the evidence for the greater impact of having targeted programmes on adolescence in achieving broader sexual and reproductive health (SRH) goals?
This helpdesk identified a number of reviews on adolescent SRH. Key findings include:
- Facilitating school attendance reduces childbearing and schools are an effective platform for reproductive health education.
- To improve access and use one review recommends: enacting and implementing laws and policies requiring education and reproductive health services, building community support for contraception provision; providing sexuality education within and outside of school settings; and making health services adolescent-friendly.
- Adolescent childbearing and early marriage are detrimental to girls’ health, school completion, and long-term earning potential, and their babies’ health and development, contributing to poverty at the household and national level.
- Involving adolescents in the planning process improved effectiveness, as did programmes sustained over long periods.
- Social marketing and behaviour change communication interventions have been effective in increasing contraceptive uptake, but had low impact on effective use and continuation.
- Mobile phones and social media are promising means of increasing contraceptive use among adolescents.
- A rights-based approach to adolescent fertility is recommended and shifting focus from the proximate to distal causes of pregnancy, including human rights abuses, gender inequality, child marriage, and socioeconomic marginalisation.
- In providing adolescent friendly services recommended approaches use a combination of health-worker training, adolescent-friendly facility improvements and broad information dissemination via the community, schools, and mass media.
- Cash transfers are effective in motivating change in a variety of settings.
Difficulty in drawing conclusions on the best practice for improving SRH for adolescents is noted within many of the reviews.