The impact of health education on reproductive health knowledge among adolescents in a rural Nigerian community
JOURNAL OF OBSTETRICS AND GYNAECOLOGY
This intervention study was to evaluate the impact of reproductive health education on the knowledge and attitude of adolescents in a rural Nigerian community to reproductive health issues. It compared adolescents in a secondary school (study group), which received health education on reproductive health with another secondary school (control group), which did not receive any. The impact of the programme was evaluated with a pre-test baseline knowledge and post-test gain in the knowledge 6 weeks later, using the same questionnaire. A total of 180 students selected by systematic sampling from each of the two randomly selected schools in Item, a rural community in south-east Nigeria participated in the programme. While all the respondents have heard of reproductive health and could identify at least one of its components, their knowledge of it prior to the health education were defective and were obtained mainly from peers and the mass media. Such information was incomplete and often coloured with cultural and religious bias. However, there was a significant (p < 0.05) gain in correct knowledge following the health education. The students in the study group showed a positive and permissive attitude towards reproductive health education and there was a drop in risky sexual behaviour following the intervention. Pre-marital sex (94.3%), pregnancy prevention and abortion (88.5%) and sexually transmitted infections (82.8%) were common reproductive health problems raised by the students. Reproductive health education as part of the school curriculum will provide an effective means of improving knowledge and reducing reproductive health problems among adolescents in developing countries.