Original Research

Adolescent–parent communication on sexual and reproductive health issues amongst secondary school students in Western Region 1 of The Gambia

Phebian I.G. Sagnia, Etadafe P. Gharoro, Alphonsus R. Isara
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 12, No 1 | a2437; | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v12i1.2437 | © 2020 Phebian I.G. Sagnia, Etadafe P. Gharoro, Alphonsus R. Isara | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 April 2020 | Published: 04 November 2020

About the author(s)

Phebian I.G. Sagnia, Directorate of Health Research, Ministry of Health, Banjul, Gambia
Etadafe P. Gharoro, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
Alphonsus R. Isara, Department of Community Health, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria

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Background: Adolescent–parent communication about sexual issues is a challenging issue worldwide. In The Gambia, many traditional communities limit such communication and this can have an adverse influence on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes and behaviours in adolescents.

Aim: The study assessed adolescent–parent communication on selected SRH issues amongst secondary school students.

Setting: The study was conducted in selected secondary schools in Western Region 1 of The Gambia.

Methods: This descriptive cross-sectional study utilised mixed methods. For the questionnaire survey, secondary school students were selected using a multistage sampling technique whilst parents for focus group discussions were purposively selected.

Results: A total of 600 adolescents and 48 parents were studied. Only 360 (60.0%) of the students had heard of SRH. One-third (67.3%) knew about sexually transmitted infection (STIs) such as human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (56.5%), gonorrhoea (40.5%) and syphilis (2.5%). Social media (31.0%) were the predominant source of information regarding SRH issues, followed by television (22.0%), school (14.0%) and parents (9.0%). Half (50.8%) of the adolescents discussed sexual intercourse with their parents – mostly with their mothers. Parental and cultural factors, fear, shyness and ignorance were the main reasons why adolescents did not discuss specific SRH issues with their parents.

Conclusion: This study showed that adolescent–parent communication on SRH issues was poor. Programmes supporting parents to effectively communicate SRH matters with their children should be designed and implemented.


adolescents; adolescent–parent communication; sexual and reproductive health; secondary school students; The Gambia


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