Jamaica Information / Dr. Pauline Russell-Brown of PEY and Associates shares research findings of a study on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’. The findings were presented at the National Health Research Conference in November 2017. + – Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson Dr. Pauline Russell-Brown of PEY and Associates shares research findings of a study on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’. The findings were presented at the National Health Research Conference in November 2017. Story Highlights Children, adolescents and youth need a continuum of age-appropriate information on health, well-being, gender, relationships, sexuality and reproductive health to guide their decisions going into adulthood. Speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, Researcher, Dr. Pauline Russell-Brown, of PEY and Associates, shared some of the findings and recommendations of the study and stressed the importance of research on the subject area. Dr. Russell-Brown explained that for this particular study, the team followed up with former students (now adults) who had been exposed to an intervention associated with the Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) programme while in primary school.

Children, adolescents and youth need a continuum of age-appropriate information on health, well-being, gender, relationships, sexuality and reproductive health to guide their decisions going into adulthood.

This is one of the findings of research conducted on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) that was presented at the eighth staging of the National Health Research Conference in Kingston in November 2017.

Speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, Researcher, Dr. Pauline Russell-Brown, of PEY and Associates, shared some of the findings and recommendations of the study and stressed the importance of research on the subject area.

“Meeting the ASRH needs of adolescents is key, and evidence of the long-term effectiveness of such programmes is needed to guide current ASRH programming,” she said.

Dr. Russell-Brown explained that for this particular study, the team followed up with former students (now adults) who had been exposed to an intervention associated with the Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) programme while in primary school.

The intervention sought to bring out the Smart, Togetherness, Attitude Positive, Respectful and Ready (STAR) in young adolescents in the early 2000s.

“The theory of the intervention was that if young adolescents learn to value themselves and are connected to supportive significant persons at home, school and within their community, they will make choices that will positively influence their life’s outcomes,” she said.

The research, which was carried out as a part of the USAID-funded Youth.now project, was implemented in Askenish and Cave Valley Primary Schools in Hanover. The package included teacher training, ongoing support from a consultant, materials, parent education and community outreach.

“We interviewed the participants along with teachers, guidance counsellors and parents more than a decade later to ascertain their trajectory into adulthood as they initiated their reproductive lives, and to assess the effect, if any, of the intervention they received as young adolescents,” Dr. Russell-Brown explained.

The young adults who had been exposed to the programme remembered it well, particularly the interaction they had and support received from their guidance counsellors. According to the research, many of the young adults who had been exposed to specific elements of the project as children were now in stable relationships, and the young women who bore children had them at an older age than their counterparts who had not been exposed.

At the time of the intervention, short-term benefits were found related to parent-child communication, teacher understanding of adolescent development, increase in related school activities and community involvement.

The teachers and guidance counsellors involved in the intervention have indicated that although it ended years ago, they still use the techniques they learned about being more interactive to bring out the creativity in students. It was recommended that consideration be given to implementing the programme in all schools, starting as early as kindergarten.

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