Helpdesk Report: Adolescent sexual and reproductive health



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.


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

Helpdesk Report: Adolescent sexual and reproductive health

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