Reproductive health promotion in adolescents of Greece: Application of the health belief model
Lavranos, Giagkos M.
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OBJECTIVE Investigation of the knowledge and attitudes of adolescents concerning sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and their beliefs concerning their sexual and reproductive health. METHOD A cross-sectional observational study was performed, followed by intervention. Data collection was carried out using a questionnaire based on the health belief model and developed by an expert panel to fit the needs of the particular research and target population. An interactive seminar was organized to correct misperceptions revealed by the responses to the questionnaire, and the intervention was assessed by evaluating post-course replies to the same questionnaire. The study was conducted with 3rd year high school pupils, 42 from one rural and 56 from one urban junior high school, of the 67 and 87 individuals, respectively, invited to participate. RESULTS The mean pre-intervention perception scores were 32.6 (standard deviation, SD: 4) for HIV, 30.5 (SD: 2.9) for viral hepatitis and 3.9 (SD: 42) for other STDs and for pregnancy. All the mean perception scores increased post-intervention, reaching 44.1 (SD: 3.4) for HIV, 37.7 (SD: 1.6) for hepatitis and 44.4 (SD: 34) for other STDs and for pregnancy. In addition, the pre-intervention minimum perception scores were 22, 24 and 35.5 for HIV, viral hepatitis and other STDs/pregnancy, respectively, while post-intervention the mini-mum scores had increased to 33, 33 and 32, respectively. A statistically significant improvement was achieved by intervention for the perception of HIV (p<0.001) by 11.5 points, viral hepatitis (p<0.001) by 6.5 points and other STDs and pregnancy (p<0.001) by 8.5 points. The size of effect was very high for all groups (D=1.9, 1.69 and 1.36, respectively). CONCLUSIONS Reliable and well-timed provision of information and sexual education of adolescents, with emphasis on disease avoidance and prevention, may delay the onset of premature sexual activity, resulting in significant physical and mental health benefits.