This report examines the question: 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
- 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
Bolton, L. Helpdesk Report: Adolescent sexual and reproductive health. Health and Education Advice and Resource Team (HEART), Oxford, UK (2016) 21 pp.