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Features of successful sexual health promotion programs for young people: findings from a review of systematic reviews.

Bowring AL, Wright CJC, Douglass C, Gold J, Lim MSC

  • Journal Health promotion journal of Australia : official journal of Australian Association of Health Promotion Professionals

  • Published 01 Feb 2018

  • Volume 29

  • ISSUE 1

  • Pagination 46-57

  • DOI 10.1002/hpja.3


Young people have a high burden of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) problems, and it is important to reach this group through health promotion initiatives. We conducted a systematic review of reviews to identify successful elements of health promotion programs for improving SRH of young people.

We identified and collated systematic reviews published in 2005-2015 which focused on young people (10-24 years), reported on SRH outcomes (pregnancy, sexually transmissible infections, condoms/contraceptive use, risky sexual behaviour, sexual healthcare access or intimate partner violence), and included primary studies predominantly conducted in high-income countries. This report focuses on features of successful SRH programs identified in the interpretation and discussion of included systematic reviews.

We identified 66 systematic reviews, of which 37 reported on program features which were anecdotally or statistically associated with improved program effectiveness and success. Common features of effective interventions were: longer term or repeated implementation; multi-setting and multi-component; parental involvement; culturally/gender/age appropriate; and inclusion of skills-building. SO WHAT?: There is marked consistency of features improving SRH program effectiveness for young people despite the wide variation in interventions reviewed. There is a need to better implement this knowledge in future programs, and our findings provide useful guidance for optimising the design of SRH interventions for young people.