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A Mobile Phone Application (“App”) for Advancing Teen Pregnancy Prevention


Background: The teen birth rate in the US remains high, particularly among racial/ethnic minorities compared with many other industrialized nations. The adverse consequences of teen pregnancy are substantial at individual, family, and community levels. A range of innovative tools and interventions is needed to foster an environment that enables teens to experience better reproductive health. In 2011, more than one-third of US teens ages 13-17 years and over 50% of young adults ages 18-24 years owned a smart phone. Evidence shows that teens access the internet for reproductive health information. Direct access to accurate, evidence-based, comprehensive, and teen-friendly information regarding pregnancy prevention that is also confidential and immediate can be made available with smart phone technology. While evidence related to the public health impact of smart phone apps is limited, similar technology-based tools, including internet-based and text-messaging interventions, have been shown to be effective at increasing health-related knowledge, motivation, and behaviors. Project Goal: CDC is seeking the design and development of complex mobile phone applications for multiple smart phone platforms. The applications should be developed with input from multiple stakeholders, including one or more leading teen pregnancy organizations that already maintain youth-friendly websites with relevant content. The development of the platforms should include a marketing plan for the app that targets teens, caregivers, youth-serving organizations, and health care providers. Teens and provider representatives must be involved in the testing of smartphone platforms, in line with standard practices in product development. The app should be interactive and comprehensive, including information about pregnancy and pregnancy prevention that may include quizzes, games, and other engaging means; a clinic “finder” feature that points users to clinics in their zip code; and a calendar and/or text-messaging feature to support both personal contraceptive use and service utilization. The app should be designed to be acceptable to teens, their caregivers, as well as youth-serving organizations and health care providers, who can promote its utilization in their services. Impact: Mobile phone technology is an important underexplored tool to support the reproductive health of teen girls, with real potential to improve knowledge and attitudes about pregnancy prevention and increase uptake of relevant health services. The product is prime for rapid scalability, as it will be freely available through multiple channels to large numbers of teens with smart phones and can be integrated easily into a wide range of reproductive health programs and services for teen girls. Once launched, the product will be evaluated initially by tracking app downloads, website hits, and related technological means. Once developed, the application could have the potential to be adapted for other audiences.
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