Various studies revealed that adolescent girls have limited knowledge pertaining to sexual and reproductive health (SRH). The current study assessed the effectiveness of SRH education among adolescent girls in urban areas of Odisha, India.
The study design was a cluster randomized trial, where the clusters composed of eight Odia (regional language) medium government girls’ high schools in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of the state of Odisha, India. For the selection of study participants, adolescent girls who were studying in the ninth and tenth standards were recruited from each school. Eight schools were randomized through restrictive randomization at a 1:1 ratio, with four schools each in the intervention and control arm. Baseline and end-line assessments were done using a pre-tested, semi-structured questionnaire. Following baseline assessment, an intervention was given with the help of handbooks developed by the study authors to the schools in the intervention arm. Outcomes included change in knowledge, attitude and practices pertaining to SRH.
In our study at baseline, there were a total of 790 students, where 469 (59.4%) students were in the intervention arm, and 321 (40.6%) students were in the control arm. At baseline, only 282 (60.1%) in the intervention arm and 171 (53.3%) in the control arm were aware that physical bodily changes due to puberty were normal. After the intervention, there was a statistically significant increase in knowledge in intervention group 367 (94.8%) (p-value < 0.001). Most students used sanitary pads as absorbent, 97.2% in the intervention group and 98.4% in the control group. However, after the intervention, the use of other absorbents reduced to zero in the intervention group with a statistically significant difference (p < 0.05). The number of students having awareness on different methods of contraception increased from 51 (10.9%) to 337 (87.1%) in the intervention arm (p < 0.001), and of those having awareness on STIs/RTIs increased from 177 (38.2%) to 371 (96.1%) in the intervention group (p < 0.001).
From our study, there is a significant proportional change in knowledge, attitude, and practices pertaining to SRH. Our study recommends policymakers and program managers for the implementation of comprehensive SRH in the regular school curriculum.
Trial registration CTRI/2021/01/030490, registered on January 15, 2021. Prospectively registered at https://ctri.nic.in/Clinicaltrials/login.php