Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy

Review the Evidence

40 years of evidence; one comprehensive database

POPLINE is the world’s largest free database of family planning and reproductive health literature, including scientific articles, reports, books, and unpublished documents.

POPLINE contains a wealth of resources on topics related to adolescent reproductive health, including the following:

Preventing adolescent pregnancy and meeting the needs of married girls: syntheses of evidence

WHO Recommendations on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (2018; PDF, 2MB)

This compilation of all current WHO guideline recommendations on the evidence-based actions that can be used to address the principal sexual and reproductive health and rights issues affecting adolescents is at once a comprehensive tool and a gateway to WHO information and guidelines. Policy-makers and decision-makers in ministries of health, and members of international and national non-governmental organizations, and members of international organizations that provide technical or financial support for ASRHR work will likely find it particularly useful.

Married Young Women and Girls’ Family Planning and Maternal Heath Preferences and Use in Ethiopia

Married Young Women and Girls’ Family Planning and Maternal Heath Preferences and Use in Ethiopia (The Evidence Project, 2017; PDF, 3.21MB)

Married young women and girls are the primary users of youth-centered sexual and reproductive health services in Ethiopia and, given the health risks associated with early and closely-spaced pregnancies, represent an especially important population to reach with SRH services. This brief looks specifically at the needs and preferences for family planning and reproductive health services among married young women and girls, with recommendations for how to more effectively ensure that they have access to those services. For additional findings, consult the full report, Understanding Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health-seeking Behaviors in Ethiopia: Implications for Youth Friendly Service Programming (2017; PDF, 1.91MB).

Supporting Youth Health with SBCC (Health Communication Capacity Collaborative, 2017; PDF, 2.87MB)

HC3 has developed tools that can be adapted by program managers to ensure social and behavior change communication (SBCC) programming for youth is based on evidence and strategic principles. This brief, part of the HC3 in Action series, describes key examples, challenges, and insights from initiatives across the HC3 project that improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes for youth and adolescents.

The Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of Very Young Adolescents Aged 10–14 in Developing Countries: What Does the Evidence Show? (Guttmacher Institute, 2017; PDF, 763KB)

This report draws on analyses of national survey data and literature review results to provide an overview of the evidence on key aspects of sexual and reproductive health among very young adolescents aged 10–14 living in low- to middle-income regions. Early adolescence is a period of rapid physical, social, emotional and cognitive changes. Delivering comprehensive sex education (CSE), continuing to reduce levels of child marriage and sexual violence, emphasizing equitable gender norms, and providing financial incentives in education are some examples of strategies to support sexual and reproductive health among this age group.

Adolescent Friendly Health Corners (AFHCs) in Selected Government Health Facilities in Bangladesh: An Early Qualitative Assessment (The Evidence Project/Population Council, 2017; PDF, 2.8MB)

With high rates of early marriage, a significant proportion of adolescents in Bangladesh need sexual and reproductive health services (SRH), including contraceptive information and services; however, Bangladesh has limited experience providing adolescent-friendly health services. To address this gap, the Bangladeshi government has begun establishing Adolescent Friendly Health Corners (AFHCs) at selected government facilities. The report presents an assessment of AFHC implementation to inform effective scale-up.

Facing the Facts: Adolescent Girls and Contraception

Facing the Facts: Adolescent Girls and Contraception (UNFPA, 2016; PDF, 1.3MB)

The majority of sexually active adolescent girls in low- and middle-income countries are married; of these married girls, only about 15% are using modern family planning methods. But sexually active, unmarried adolescent girls have more than twice the total demand for contraception compared to their married counterparts. This UNFPA report discusses the reasons for this unmet need and offers data-driven solutions in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Adolescent Contraceptive Fact Sheets (WHO, 2016)

WHO has published a set of fact sheets highlighting key information on the use and non-use of contraceptives by adolescents (ages 15-19) in 58 low- and middle-income countries across the world. The fact sheets are secondary data analyses of existing data from the Demographic and Health Survey Program (DHS), which conducts nationally representative surveys in low-and middle-income countries. They highlight how adolescents acquire contraception from a variety of sources; additionally, they help to uncover the reasons why adolescents do not use contraception.

Making the Case for Investing in Adolescent Reproductive Health: A Review of Evidence and PopPov Research Contributions (PRB, 2016; PDF, 811KB)

This PRB report examines the evidence for investing in adolescent reproductive health and family planning programs from the perspective of making an evidence-based argument to guide the investment or spending decisions of public or private organizations. Solid evidence on the links between preventing adolescent childbearing and alleviating poverty can motivate policymakers and donors to invest in reproductive health and family planning programs for youth. Research that documents the clear cause-and-effect relationship between program interventions and outcomes, such as better health and delayed childbearing among teens, can guide decisions about investments in research or programs.

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Evidence summaries: the HIPs briefs

The High Impact Practices in Family Planning (HIPs) team at USAID has published briefs that synthesize the evidence and provide recommendations on how to implement selected HIPs. 

"Adolescent-Friendly Contraceptive Services (AFCS): Mainstreaming Adolescent-Friendly Elements Into Existing Contraceptive Services" (2015; PDF, 335KB) focuses on the elements of AFCS that are typically implemented within a service delivery setting. It describes how mainstreaming AFCS can address key challenges for contraceptive programs, discusses the existing evidence of adolescent-friendly elements, outlines key issues for planning and implementation, and identifies knowledge gaps.

"Improving Sexual and Reproductive Health of Young People: A Strategic Planning Guide" (2015; PDF, 156KB) is intended to lead program managers, planners, and decision makers through a strategic process to identify the most effective and efficient investments for improving the sexual and reproductive health of young people.

"Educating Girls: Creating a foundation for positive sexual and reproductive health behaviors" (2014; PDF, 395KB) describes the relationship of girls’ education on family planning and reproductive health and behaviors; highlights evidence-based practices that increase girls’ enrollment, retention, and participation in school; and provides recommendations for how the health sector can support keeping girls in school.

Open access, peer-reviewed journal

The Global Health: Science and Practice Journal also contains a wealth of peer-reviewed research on topics relevant to preventing adolescent pregnancy and promoting youth sexual and reproductive health:

Chandra-Mouli V, Lane C, Wong S. What Does Not Work in Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health: A Review of Evidence on Interventions Commonly Accepted as Best Practices. Glob Health Sci Pract 2015;3(3):333-340.

Youth centers, peer education, and one-off public meetings have generally been ineffective in facilitating young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, changing their behaviors, or influencing social norms around adolescent SRH. Approaches that have been found to be effective when well implemented, such as comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly services, have tended to flounder as they have considerable implementation requirements that are seldom met. For adolescent SRH programs to be effective, we need substantial effort through coordinated and complementary approaches. Unproductive approaches should be abandoned, proven approaches should be implemented with adequate fidelity to those factors that ensure effectiveness, and new approaches should be explored, to include greater attention to prevention science, engagement of the private sector, and expanding access to a wider range of contraceptive methods that respond to adolescents’ needs.


Topic last updated: October 23, 2018