Comparative Qualitative Findings on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health in Sub-Saharan Africa

Mary Amuyunzu-Nyamongo, African Population and Health Research Center
Christine Ouedraogo, Université de Ouagadougou
Vanessa Woog, Alan Guttmacher Institute

An important challenge to research on adolescent sexual and reproductive health is accurately measuring sexual behavior. Conducting comparative research presents a further challenge to making sexual and reproductive health concepts “standard” across varying contexts. This paper, based on a multi-country study conducted in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Uganda and Malawi, provides insights into how young people from diverse socio-cultural contexts understand key sexual and reproductive health terms. Fifty-five focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted from January through April 2003 with adolescents ages 14 to 19 years from diverse circumstances – rural and urban, male and female, in-school and out-of-school. A number of logistical difficulties in conducting FGDs with the different categories of adolescents are described. Preliminary findings of adolescents’ understanding of key concepts (e.g. sexual activity, risk, oral sex, prevention and protection) suggest the need to acknowledge the wide range of “measurement error” surrounding sexual and reproductive health outcomes.

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Presented in Session 39: Adolescent Reproductive Health in Developing Countries