Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, faces an alarming challenge: one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the region. In a country where one in four pregnancies occur in adolescents, who often suffer the consequences of poverty and economic and gender inequality, a randomized pilot field study was conducted using technology to improve the sexual and reproductive health of young people in this country.
With funding from Grand Challenges Canada, TeenSmart International (TSI) implemented a project that evaluated a short-term intervention that involved the delivery of educational micromessages designed to improve knowledge, skills, motivations and behaviors related to sexual and reproductive health among Nicaraguan youth aged 14 to 17. These micromessages were delivered by mail, the Joven Salud platform and its mobile application.
Access to technology and the internet presented itself as a significant barrier, but the TSI team found ingenious solutions such as the creation of a mobile library. The delivery of micromessages through a mobile app and email proved to be an effective means of reaching those young people who had access to mobile devices and the Internet. In addition, it was found that those young people who used the mobile app were more likely to complete the entire intervention.
But that’s not all! The young participants expressed astonishing satisfaction with the intervention, reaching an impressive 98%. Not only that, but they also experienced significant improvements in their knowledge, skills and motivations in the realm of sexual and reproductive health. In addition, among the impacts was a delay in the initiation of sexual relations among the participants. The results of this study are promising and point towards the potential for scalability of this type of intervention.
“Harnessing the Power of Technology to Improve Sexual and Reproductive Youth Health in Nicaragua: A Randomized Field Study”, which can be consulted at the following link: //journals.sagepub.com/eprint/GW6DKJBBCB8QFRIEWUQQ/full
TSI is a non-profit organization with more than 15 years of experience in health promotion among adolescents and young people, which has been tirelessly dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles and self-leadership in young people in 20 countries in the region through free online services. Its platform, available in www.jovensalud.net offers a range of tools accessible to all Spanish-speaking young people aged 10 to 24 who have a device and the Internet. It aims to prevent and/or reduce six high-risk behaviors that often set in adolescence and persist into adulthood, with high costs to society: accidents & violence, mental health, alcohol & drug abuse, tobacco, high-risk sexual behaviors, and lack of exercise; &, poor nutrition. The platform offers 7 services: 1) Interactive questionnaires that allow young people to assess and take responsibility for their own risk and protective factors; 2) Confidential counseling with professional volunteers and a revolutionary chatbot called Joy; 3) Virtual life skills courses; 4) Virtual library on health topics, including graphics, videos and games, among others; 5) Youth forums supported by professionals; 6) a directory of community health resources & 7) Micromessages that will be sent to theirs emails, the mobile application and / or the Joven Salud platform.
If you are a young person from 10 to 24 years, use Joven Salud!; If you are over 24 but have young people in your life, recommend www.jovensalud.net, free and confidential services with the purpose of empowering adolescents to make the best decisions for their lives and that these are satisfactory and effective.