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Improving Adolescent Perceptions of Barriers and Facilitators to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services Through Sexual Health Education

      Abstract

      Purpose

      This study examines whether comprehensive sexual health education that provides information on clinical services can change adolescents’ perceptions of barriers, facilitators, and intention to use services and whether changes in perceptions differ by participant characteristics.

      Methods

      Adolescent participants in a statewide sexual health education program in California were surveyed at baseline and at exit about their perceptions of barriers, facilitators, and intention to use clinical services. Linked baseline and exit surveys (n = 7,460) assessed change in perceptions after program completion. Logistic regression analyses that accounted for the clustered data structure assessed associations between participant characteristics and improvement in perceptions.

      Results

      After the program, there were significant reductions in two perceived barriers (worry about cost and judgment by staff), but there were also small but significant increases in perceptions of two barriers (worry about confidentiality of services and test results). There were significant increases in all three perceived facilitators and intention to use sexual and reproductive health services, which rose from 90.6% at baseline to 96.2% at exit. Younger youth were more likely than older youth to show improvement in all perceived facilitators and intentions. Girls and Black youth were more likely than boys and Hispanic youth to show improvement in two facilitators (knowing what to expect and access). No sociodemographic characteristics were consistently associated with reductions in perceived barriers.

      Discussion

      Comprehensive sexual health education that addresses adolescents’ questions and concerns regarding clinical services can help to reduce perceived barriers, increase facilitators, and increase intention to use services if needed.

      Keywords

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