Text Messages Deliver Sex Ed to Teens

A new study finds that text messaging that connects teens with sexual health educators is effective for delivering sexual health information.

Investigators from Washington State University discovered the format is especially beneficial for teens at high risk.

“What we found is that teens identified as ‘at-risk’ use this text messaging service at a higher rate that other teens,” said Jessica Willoughby, Ph.D., lead investigator on the project.

“This is a critical first step in helping prevent negative sexual outcomes such as sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy.”

The study is currently found online and will be published in print in a forthcoming issue of the journal Health Education and Behavior.

Investigators looked at more than 2,000 students in six public schools where a statewide text message service that connects teens to sexual health educators was promoted.

Teens identified as “at-risk” — more likely to have had sex, to have been in a relationship and to have come from a lower socioeconomic background — were more likely to use the service.

Thus, the sexual health text message services were reaching the teens who may be most likely to benefit.

“With these new tools being provided as a possible option for sexual health information, we felt it was critical to examine how well they are working and for whom they are useful,” Willoughby said.

“What we can now say is that text messaging services that allow teens to reach out to a health educator can be an effective option to get critical information into the hands of teens that may need it most,” she said.

Source: Washington State University