In recent years, young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health care has improved due to the expanded reach of services, including an increase in the number of school-based health centers. Still, many youth experience significant barriers not only to accessing sexual and reproductive health care, but also to care that is inclusive and trauma-informed. Young people who identify as LGBTQ+, Black, or Latine[i] have greater sexual and reproductive health disparities than other young people their age. And if these young people live in a rural area or in a southern U.S. state, accessing sexual and reproductive health care is often even more difficult.
To determine the efficacy of a mobile intervention that may reduce barriers to care, Power to Decide is collaborating with Child Trends, MyHealthEd, and Healthy Teen Network to conduct a five-year (2021-2026) randomized control trial evaluation of SafeSpace, an app-based sexual health intervention designed for LGBTQ+, Black, and Latine youth. Funding for this evaluation comes from the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) through the Personal Responsibility Education Innovation Strategies (PREIS) program.
SafeSpace is a 10-week program delivered via a mobile application adapted from Real Talk by MyHealthEd. The SafeSpace developers designed the program to provide youth a secure space to share personal stories and build health literacy. Users receive lessons several times per week that center around real youth stories about a range of subjects. Users are encouraged to complete a short reflection and to check out the resources provided at the end of each lesson. The information and resources provided through SafeSpace are intended to 1) illustrate positive health decision making, 2) correct misconceptions about adolescent sexual behavior, 3) provide evidence of peer approval for healthy decision making, 4) promote communication with parents, and 5) provide teens with opportunities to build communication skills around these topics.
As the evaluator, Child Trends is measuring the impact of receiving the SafeSpace program on five behavioral outcomes:
The study is enrolling approximately 1,000 young people ages 14-18 who were assigned female or intersex at birth and live in a southern U.S. state, with an emphasis on recruiting young people who are LGBTQ+, Black, and/or Latine, and/or people living in rural areas.
To complete this goal, Child Trends, Power to Decide, MyHealthEd, and Healthy Teen Network are conducting the following study activities:
Child Trends evaluation leads
Federal program officer
[i] We utilize the word “Latine” as a nonbinary, gender-inclusive term to refer to individuals of Latin American and Caribbean background. Unlike “Latinx,” which is mostly used in the mainland United States, Latine can be pronounced and conjugated in Spanish and other Latin languages. We acknowledge that the limitation of these terms is that, at this point in time, they are not widely used by the majority of the members of the communities that they are used to represent.
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