New research suggests 12 evidence-based principles that can be used to improve contraceptive counseling of adolescents in U.S. health care clinics, doctor's offices, and health service organizations. The research was led by Professor James Jaccard, Ph.D., and Nicole Levitz, M.P.H., of the New York University Silver School of Social Work and its Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH).
Jaccard and Levitz write in the article - "Counseling Adolescents About Contraception: Towards the Development of an Evidence-Based Protocol for Contraceptive Counselors," just published in the Journal of Adolescent Health - that developing an effective counseling protocol that takes into account the unique developmental status of adolescents is important. This includes the nature of romantic relationships during adolescence (they are short-lived and often emotionally intense) and the fact that adolescents are still developing cognitively, socially, emotionally, physically, and morally. The principles the researchers offer for effective counseling are derived from bodies of scientific literature on both adolescent development and contraceptive decision-making.
"We offer these in the spirit of creating an initial skeleton of a contraceptive counseling protocol for use with adolescents that can be subjected to future empirical evaluation," write Jaccard and Levitz.
Although adolescent pregnancies in the U.S. have been declining since the 1990s, they are still high. With nearly 750,000 pregnancies among women younger than 20 years old annually in the U.S., the teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. remains the highest of all developed countries, according to the authors.