Sex, Studies or Strive

Sex, Studies or Strive: The Adolescent Health Needs Assessment Project

A research study to describe the health needs of adolescents in Higher Secondary Schools. This finding will help to develop health promotion programs for adolescents.

Adolescent health is gaining status as a research priority in developing countries, with particular emphasis on sexuality and reproductive health.

This is based both on the developmental aspects of adolescence as the transitional period between childhood and adulthood where sexual maturation and self-identity are consolidated as well as the fact that sexual activity often begins during this period.

However, there remains little systematic research on the health priorities and needs as perceived by adolescents themselves. There is growing evidence that educational difficulties and family conflict leading to depression may be rising; attempted suicide rates in adolescents are on the increase in South Asia.

This project aimed to use a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods to elicit the health priorities and needs as expressed by adolescents and their teachers with the overall objective of providing information which may be usefully incorporated in health interventions for adolescents. The sample consisted of adolescents in several schools in rural and urban areas of Salcete taluka of South Goa.

Approximately 1000 adolescents participated in the study including 811 who took part in a survey completing a questionnaire developed for the study will provide information on mental, sexual and family health. Qualitative methods included the use of free-list, focus group discussions and key informant interviews

The study findings show that the majority of adolescents are healthy and do not abuse substances or engage in unsafe sexual behaviour. However, a small vulnerable group of adolescents can be identified who suffer violence and abuse, are more likely to abuse alcohol and tobacco and have poor mental health and relationships with their parents.

These findings will provide the first needs assessment data on adolescent health from Goa and will guide the development of health promotion strategies for adolescents by incorporating their concerns and thus making the program of greater relevance to them.