Effect of integrated reproductive health lesson materials in a problem-based pedagogy on soft skills for safe sexual behaviour among adolescents: A school-based randomized controlled trial in Tanzania
Adolescents are currently becoming sexually active before their 18th birthday during which they have to battle with unsafe sexual behaviours, teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and school dropouts. The trend is linked with low soft skills (self-esteem and assertiveness skills) for them to make informed, reasoned, and responsible decisions over sexual activities. This study designed and tested the effect of integrated reproductive health (RH) lesson materials in a
... m-based pedagogy (PBP) to enhance soft skills for safe sexual behaviour among adolescents in Tanzania. Methods A double-blinded clustered randomized controlled trial was conducted between September 2019 and September 2020 among 660 randomly selected adolescents. A Sexual-risk Behaviour Beliefs and Self-esteem Scale adopted from previous studies measured soft skills for safe sexual behaviour. A descriptive statistical analysis was performed by using the statistical analysis software programme version 9.4. The effect of the intervention was determined using Linear Mixed Model set at α error probability = 5% significance level (95% confidence interval) and a β error probability = 0.80. Findings Adolescents' mean age was 15±1.869 with 57.5% females. The end-line findings indicated that the coefficient of soft skills was significantly higher among adolescents in the hybrid PBP (β=9.0986, p<0.01; 95%CI: 4.7772, 14.2311) and pure PBP (β =8.7114, p<0.01; 95%CI: 3.9990, 10.1208) than in the control group. The retention rate of soft skills was still significantly higher at 3-months follow-up (β=2.0044; p<0.01; 95%CI: 1.0234, 4.1182) and at 6-months follow-up (β=1.9803; p<0.01; 95%CI: 0.8399, 3.1099) compared to the baseline and immediate post-intervention assessments. Conclusion The intervention substantially enhanced soft skills for safe sexual behaviour among adolescents of both sex. Despite the fact that scores for soft skills varied across the study timelines, adolescents demonstrated significant intentions to abstain from sexual intercourse, delay sexual relationships, negotiate condom use, and withstand sexual coercions. The PBP may need to be incorporated in ordinary level secondary school curricula as a formal guide to teachers and or health workers to optimally prepare adolescents for their healthy adulthood.