The Effect of Peer Education in Dispelling Myths and Misconceptions about Long-Acting Reversible Contraception among Ethiopian Youth
Robust evidence, including systematic reviews and recommendations from the 2016 Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing, does not wholly support the unambiguous endorsement of peer-led community-based interventions. This study evaluated the effectiveness of an intensive three-day training for peer educators (PE) on dispelling myths and misconceptions about long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) among Ethiopian youth. Post-training, PEs conducted demand-generation activities with their peers to encourage LARCs referrals. A convenience purposive sampling technique was used to select 20 health centers where peer educators referred clients: 10 each in Amhara and Tigray regions. The health centers were randomly allocated to the intervention (five) and non-intervention (five) study arms. Data were abstracted from the peer educators‘ monthly reporting forms over an 11-month period: 5 months pre-intervention and 6 months post-intervention. Analysis of family planning and LARCs referrals and chi-square tests of association were conducted. Odds of LARCs referrals at pre-intervention (0.96), fell to 0.83 for the post-intervention phase (p-value <0.6). Challenges, largely with data collection and reporting, may have exposed the study to Type II errors. We recommend focused and rigorous data collection in a multi-country 2X2 factorial design cluster randomized holistic intervention (service providers/clinic and PEs/community) trial to comprehensively determine effectiveness on demand for and uptake of LARCs among youth.
Keywords: Peer educators, demand generation, youth, family planning referrals, long-acting reversible contraceptive referrals