Programs to Strengthen Parent–Adolescent Communication About Reproductive Health

A Systematic Review


      When caring for an adolescent client, providers of contraceptive services must consider whether and how to encourage parent/guardian–child communication about the adolescent’s reproductive health. The objective of this systematic review was to summarize the evidence on the effectiveness of programs designed to increase parent–child communication about reproductive health. The review was used to inform national recommendations on quality family planning services. Data analysis occurred from mid-2011 through 2012.

      Evidence acquisition

      Several electronic bibliographic databases were used to identify relevant articles, including PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Popline, published from January 1985 through February 2011.

      Evidence synthesis

      Sixteen articles met the inclusion criteria: all studies examined the impact on at least one medium- or short-term outcome, and two studies assessed the impact on teen pregnancy. One study examined the impact of a program conducted in a clinic setting; the remainder examined the impact of programs in community settings. All studies showed a positive impact on at least one short-term outcome, and 12 of 16 studies showed an increase in parent–child communication about reproductive health. Four of seven studies found an impact on sexual risk behavior.


      Most programs increased parent–child communication, and several resulted in reduced sexual risk behavior of adolescents. This suggests that delivering a clinic-based program that effectively helps parents/guardians talk to their adolescent child(ren) about reproductive health, or referring parents/guardians to an evidence-based program in the community, may be beneficial. However, further rigorous research on delivery of these programs in clinical settings is needed.
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