Online Program

Utilizing Academic-Community Partnerships to Develop and Promote Community-Wide Sexual Health Initiatives

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Melissa Tibbits, PhD, Health Promotion, Social & Behavioral Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
Brenda Council, JD, Women's Fund of Omaha, Omaha, NE
Christopher Fisher, PhD, Department of Health Promotion and Sexology, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
Kutlo Rasetshwane, MS, Department of Health Promotion, Social & Behavioral Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
David Taylor, BS, Department of Health Promotion, Social & Behavioral Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE
Background: 10 million new STD cases occur among youth ages 15-24 in the United States each year. Although effective interventions are available, barriers such as limited funding and community support for comprehensive sex education have prevented their widespread dissemination. The Adolescent Health Project is an academic-community partnership that was developed to promote youth sexual health in Omaha, Nebraska. This presentation will discuss how research and community engagement strategies were used to develop the initiative and promote widespread community support.     

Methods: A local non-profit organization, the Women’s Fund of Omaha, partnered with a local foundation to develop the Adolescent Health Project. Academic partners served on the advisory board and conducted research to guide the initiative, including: reviewing the literature on risk factors and intervention strategies; conducting an environmental scan that included semi-structured interviews with community stakeholders (n=21); and conducting interviews with local youth (N=41). 

Results: Research results were used to determine three project priorities, which currently are being implemented and evaluated: delivering a community-wide media campaign to educate and reduce stigma about STDs; enhancing clinical providers’ capacity to effectively serve youth; and aligning schools’ sex education curricula with best practices in comprehensive sex education. Prior to implementation, the research and rationale for the chosen strategies were discussed with several groups of diverse community stakeholders to promote buy-in.

Conclusions: Academic-community partnerships that effectively utilize research to set project priorities and engage community stakeholders are a promising approach to overcoming the barriers that often prevent the widespread implementation of youth-focused STD interventions.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe how research and community engagement strategies can be used to develop and promote community-wide, youth-focused sexual health initiatives.

Keyword(s): STDs/STI, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the research described in the abstract and have extensive experience in community-engaged research and practice.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.