Improving adolescent reproductive health through online family engagement: Developing the ‘parents are talking’ website
Abortion, Contraception
Awarded 2015
Interdisciplinary Innovation (Phase 1) Grants
Aletha Akers, MD, MPH
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

US adolescents have high rates of pregnancy, childbearing, and sexually transmitted infections (STI) highlighting the need to identify and implement effective programs that will help improve their reproductive health. Improving adolescents’ reproductive outcomes is a high priority for the City of Philadelphia, where half of the priority areas in the Health Department’s 2014-2018 Strategic Plan focus on reproductive health indices, particularly among adolescent and young adult women. In response to the Society of Family Planning Research Fund RFA for Interdisciplinary Innovation (I2) proposals, Aletha Akers, MD, MPH proposes to work with Philadelphia families and community partners to develop an interactive website to improve parents’ capacity to positively influence the reproductive health of their adolescent girls. The website represents a novel approach for delivering reproductive health information and linking adolescents to reproductive and family planning services. We use patient- and family-centered methods while integrating the best of what is known from research and clinical practice regarding families’ influence on adolescents’ reproductive decisions. This proposal builds on the existing, strong collaboration between Dr. Akers (adolescent gynecology) and Dorcas Francisco, PhD (instructional design) and adds the expertise of Kenneth Ginsburg, MD (adolescent medicine), an internationally renowned pediatrician and developer of Reaching Teens, a multimedia textbook and video-based curriculum for families and community organizations, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Developing the website will position the team to seek a Phase II SFP I2 grant, which would be used to assess the website’s effect on delaying adolescent sexual initiation, increasing condom and contraceptive uptake, and utilization of reproductive health services among adolescents in southwest and west Philadelphia, where the city’s rates of teen pregnancy and STIs are most alarming. The web-based platform will facilitate wider dissemination following the granting period to a range of stakeholders, including schools, social service organizations, and clinics.