Date: 13 Feb 2014

Potential for Using Online and Mobile Education with Parents and Adolescents to Impact Sexual and Reproductive Health

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Abstract

Research supports the central role of parents in the sexual health behaviors and outcomes of their adolescent children. Too often, parents and adolescents with the greatest sexual health disparities are difficult to reach and engage in preventative interventions. Online and mobile technologies (OMTs) represent an innovative opportunity to reach large numbers of youth and their parents. However, there is a dearth of information related to the feasibility and acceptability of OMT-delivered family interventions for reaching vulnerable youths—particularly, ethnic minority youths. The current manuscript addresses this gap in the empirical literature by examining the feasibility and acceptability of OMT-based parent-adolescent sexual health interventions for African American and Latino families. Focus groups were conducted with convenience samples of Latino and African Americans from six US cities. Fourteen focus groups (six parents and eight adolescents) with an average of 10–12 participants each provided data for the study. Researchers used inductive thematic analysis to evaluate data. The findings suggest that parents and adolescents were motivated to obtain sexual health information through OMTs due to their accessibility, widespread use, and ability to deliver large quantities of information. However, personalized and trustworthy information was viewed as less attainable through the Internet or similar digital means, presenting a potential barrier to delivering an adolescent sexual health intervention via OMTs. Sexual health interventions delivered through online and mobile mechanisms present a novel opportunity for reaching potentially at-risk ethnic minority adolescents and their parents. Feelings of discomfort surrounding OMT use with parents, generational differences, and parent-adolescent relationship quality must be considered when developing technology-based sexual health interventions for Latino and African American families.