We are open-minded but not liberated: Using Human-Centered Design to hear teenage voices in the Philippines
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Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, Philippines
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1103
The Philippines declared teenage pregnancy a national social emergency in 2019. Limited accessibility to family planning (FP) commodities and services, mandatory parental consent to access contraception as a minor, and low use of health services are all key factors that contribute to this problem. USAID ReachHealth, a 5-year FP project in the Philippines, used human-centered design (HCD) to ask - How Might We Reduce Unintended Teenage Pregnancy in the Philippines? The HCD process (Empathize, Define, Ideate, Design and Test/Implement) used participatory methods adapted for adolescents. Youth organizations recruited participants and helped in data collection and analysis. The adults close to teens were also interviewed. They worked in parallel spaces to reduce the influence of power dynamics. The team utilized projective and interactive techniques to keep adolescents engaged and open to sharing sensitive topics. They factored in adolescents’ sexual identity, age and language. The team interacted with 200+ adolescents and adults. This resulted in 12 insights, 281 potential ideas, five complementary prototypes and four implemented interventions. The insights highlight the unique perspective adolescents have compared to their parents and community. They need to be equipped to talk to teenagers about love, sex and relationships without fear that they are corrupting them. Health providers need to provide a safe space for teens so that their experience with health services is a positive one. Teenage pregnancy is clearly a complex issue that needs to be approached at different levels with teenagers guiding the way. This serves as a comprehensive resource that program managers can use. They also need to invest in preventing the first birth and not just rapid repeat pregnancy. The HCD process highlights how important it is to involve teenagers in programs for them. They have much to say and seek genuine opportunities to weigh in on important health topics.
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