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Smartphone app teaches girls about sexual health

Smartphone app teaches girls about sexual health


Amsterdam, The Netherlands – WEBWIRE

Atlas award-winning researchers reporting in the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology think they may have a way to help more girls get the information and support they need to help avoid an unwanted, early pregnancy. Their solution is Girl Talk: a sexual health education app that girls could download freely and reference privately on their own personal smartphones.

While teen pregnancy rates in the United States have declined in recent years, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates show that more than 200,000 American girls between the ages of 15 and 19 still give birth every year.

“There are recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that girls come in for a talk visit with their doctors between the ages of 13 and 15, but that rarely ever happens,” said Lynae Brayboy of the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. “Doctors rarely see girls early unless they are having a problem. As a result, girls never receive anticipatory guidance — information before an event occurs. They are left on their own and, when there’s a bad outcome, they are blamed. I thought that was completely unfair.”

Girl Talk is an “innovative intervention related to comprehensive sexual health education that has the potential to help combat unintended pregnancy and STDs,” said Paula J Adams Hillard, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.

As Brayboy and her colleagues report, the Girl Talk app incorporates four guiding principles: trusted sexual health information, visually appealing graphics, compatibility with iPhones, and age-appropriate, straightforward content. The app covers topics including anatomy and physiology, sexuality and relationships, contraception, sexually transmitted infections, and body image.

In the new study, the researchers tested whether girls would actually be inclined to use the app. They enlisted 39 girls between the ages of 12 and 17 from Rhode Island to participate in a study. In the first phase, 22 girls completed a sexual health questionnaire. In the next phase, 17 girls with iPhones used Girl Talk for two weeks, answering sexual health and interview questions both before and after.

After spending time with the app, girls said they found the app useful and thought their friends would use it. The findings show that such an app has potential to reach its intended audience and to make a real difference in girls’ lives.

“We found that a smartphone application is a feasible sexual health educational tool that is appealing to teenage girls,” Brayboy said. “In fact, our participants recommended the application as a valuable resource to learn about comprehensive sexual health.”

The full story and interview with the authors is available at: https://www.elsevier.com/connect/atlas/girl-talk

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The article is Girl Talk: A Smartphone Application to Teach Sexual Health Education to Adolescent Girls (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpag.2016.06.011).

Lynae Brayboy, Alexandra Sepolen, Taylor Mezoian, Lucy Schultz, Benedict Langren-Mills, Noelle Spencer, Carol Wheeler, Melissa Clark. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology February 2017.

About the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology 
Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology includes all aspects of clinical and basic science research in pediatric and adolescent gynecology. The Journal draws on expertise from a variety of disciplines including pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, reproduction and gynecology, reproductive and pediatric endocrinology, genetics, and molecular biology.

About Atlas, Research for a better world 
Science impacts everyone’s world. With over 1,800 journals publishing articles from across science, technology and health, our mission is to share some of the stories that matter. Each month Elsevier’s Atlas showcases research that can significantly impact people’s lives around the world or has already done so. We hope that bringing wider attention to this research will go some way to ensuring its successful implementation.

With so many worthy articles published the tough job of selecting a single article to be awarded “The Atlas” each month comes down to an Advisory Board. The winning research is presented alongside interviews, expert opinions, multimedia and much more on the Atlas website: www.elsevier.com/atlas

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps institutions and professionals progress science, advance healthcare and improve performance for the benefit of humanity. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirectScopusSciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, more than 35,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray’s Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a global provider of information and analytics for professionals and business customers across industries. www.elsevier.com


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