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Study by Rothschild Examines Pleasure-related Programming in Sexual and Reproductive Health Interventions

Posted: 11/29/2023 (CSDE Research)

CSDE Affiliate Dr. Claire Rothschild (Population Services International) and colleagues released their research in Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, “Assessing acceptability and effectiveness of a pleasure-oriented sexual and reproductive health chatbot in Kenya: an exploratory mixed-methods study“. Integrating pleasure may be a successful strategy for reaching young people with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) interventions. However, sexual pleasure-related programming and research remains sparse. Authors aimed to assess chatbot acceptability and describe changes in SRHR attitudes and behaviours among Kenyan young adults engaging with a pleasure-oriented SRHR chatbot.

They used an exploratory mixed-methods study design. Between November 2021 and January 2022, participants completed a self-administered online questionnaire before and after chatbot engagement. In-depth phone interviews were conducted among a select group of participants after their initial chatbot engagement. Quantitative data were analysed using paired analyses and interviews were analysed using thematic content analysis. Of 301 baseline participants, 38% (115/301) completed the endline survey, with no measured baseline differences between participants who did and did not complete the endline survey. In-depth interviews were conducted among 41 participants. They observed higher satisfaction at endline vs. baseline on reported ability to exercise sexual rights (P ≤ 0.01), confidence discussing contraception (P ≤ 0.02) and sexual feelings/needs (P ≤ 0.001) with their sexual partner(s). Qualitative interviews indicated that most participants valued the chatbot as a confidential and free-of-judgment source of trustworthy “on-demand” SRHR information. Participants reported improvements in sex-positive communication with partners and safer sex practices due to new learnings from the chatbot. We observed increases in SRHR empowerment among young Kenyans after engagement with the chatbot. Integrating sexual pleasure into traditional SRHR content delivered through digital tools is a promising strategy to advance positive SRHR attitudes and practices among youth.

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