Engaging parents in school-based sexual health promotion using online animated films. A UK-wide cluster randomised controlled trial process evaluation

Aine Aventin*, Maria Lohan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background Research supports the central role that parents play in promoting positive sexual behaviour and outcomes in their children, however, they can be very difficult to engage in relationships and sexuality education (RSE) programmes. Online and mobile technologies (OMTs) that promote parent-child communication may offer an innovative solution to reaching parents, but there remains insufficient evidence regarding the acceptability and feasibility of these modalities. This study addresses this gap by reporting parent, adolescent and teacher perceptions of co-produced online animated films implemented during a school-based cluster randomised trial (cRCT).
Methods The Jack Trial is a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded cRCT involving over 8000 adolescents (mean age 14.4), teachers and parents from 66 post-primary schools across the UK. It aims to determine the effectiveness of a multi-component RSE intervention in reducing unprotected sex. A mixed-methods process evaluation, embedded within the trial, explored the acceptability and feasibility of co-produced parental components to end users. Data includes semi-structured interviews and focus groups with a total of 110 pupils, teachers, parents and policy experts, 134 surveys completed by parents and an intervention engagement questionnaire completed by 4000 adolescents.
Results Parents who used the online materials were very positive about them, with 87% rating them as ‘good or excellent’ and 67% saying they helped them have a conversation with their child about sex. Web analytics revealed, however, that overall engagement with the online resources was moderate at 28%. Parents, adolescents and teachers provided mixed perceptions of the acceptability and feasibility of encouraging parent-child communication about sexuality for the first time during adolescence.
Discussion The use of OMTs to promote parent-teen communication about sexual and reproductive health show potential for increasing reach. However, this study suggests that, for optimal engagement of parents there is a need for: early and sustained intervention; multi-modal interventions to improve parent-child communication about SRH that address key barriers to engagement; dedicated RSE training for teachers and parents; policy-led, finance-backed initiatives to involve schools and parents in RSE; and public awareness campaigns highlighting the importance of parental involvement in RSE.
Implications 1) Reports acceptability of an innovative intervention which has wider public health applications and international appeal; 2) Responds to global calls to address the role of parents in improving adolescent sexual health outcomes; 3) Offers recommendations for development of interventions that address barriers to parental engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2019
EventJoint Public Health Conference 2019 - , United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Nov 2019 → …


ConferenceJoint Public Health Conference 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period27/11/2019 → …


Dive into the research topics of 'Engaging parents in school-based sexual health promotion using online animated films. A UK-wide cluster randomised controlled trial process evaluation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this