Evidence-Based Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Interventions: What’s New?


Evidence-Based Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Interventions: What’s New?

October 9, 2023
A small group of young people sit around a table and have an animated discussion.

Implementing evidence-based programs can help support young people’s sexual and reproductive well-being by increasing access to information and services, including contraception. With particular attention to health equity, researchers across the country have focused on developing and evaluating new, innovative interventions that can serve a variety of adolescents across a range of settings. For example, a recently published systematic review examining literature from 2010-2020 identified evaluations of 59 unique digital adolescent sexual and reproductive health interventions. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently updated the HHS Teen Pregnancy Prevention Evidence Review (TPPER), the first update since 2018.  The TPPER presents the findings of systematic reviews to identify evidence-based adolescent sexual and reproductive health interventions. The 2023 update resulted in nine new evidence-based programs being included in the database, for a total of 52 programs. These added interventions include school-based, clinic-based, and digital programs, as well as programs designed for LGBTQ+ young people, young people of color, and families. 

Power to Decide is proud to contribute to the evidence-base for adolescent sexual and reproductive interventions. We are currently leading a randomized controlled trial of SafeSpace, an app-based intervention that uses authentic youth stories to provide information and resources on sexual health as well as mental and emotional health. SafeSpace was specifically designed to meet the needs of LGBTQ+, Black, and Latine youth. 

Funded by the Administration for Children and Families/Family and Youth Services Bureau’s Personal Responsibility Education Program - Innovative Strategies (PREIS), this project is implemented in partnership with MyHealthEd, Inc., Healthy Teen Network, and Child Trends. SafeSpace is a 10-week curriculum based on Real Talk, which was originally developed by MyHealthEd as part of Power to Decide’s Innovation Next initiative implemented from 2015-2021. 

Additionally, Power to Decide was recently awarded a 5-year cooperative agreement from the Office of Population Affairs to rigorously evaluate Let’s Talk Birth Control (“Let’s Talk”), a contraceptive decision-support intervention. Let’s Talk includes three core components: (1) a printed contraceptive decision aid with a QR code that links to the Method Explorer page on Bedsider; (2) the Bedsider Method Explorer, which includes digital information on the full range of contraceptive methods and a personalized method comparison feature; and (3) an online training for providers on patient-centered contraceptive counseling, including use of the decision aid to support shared decision-making with adolescent patients. 

In partnership with Child Trends, the University of California San Francisco Beyond the Pill Program, and the National Association of Community Health Centers, we will be conducting a cluster randomized trial in 30 community health centers to assess effectiveness of Let’s Talk among patients age 15-24 who were assigned female at birth. To date, there are few evidence-based short duration, clinic-based interventions. In fact, only three programs included in the TPPER are deemed “clinic-based” (although more can be implemented in a clinical setting). Our evaluation of Let’s Talk has the potential to address this notable gap. 

Stay tuned for future updates on these evaluations — hopefully they will result in new evidence-based interventions to support adolescent sexual and reproductive health.