An exploratory study of parent-adolescent communication on sexual and reproductive health behaviours among the adolescents in Wakiso District
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This study explores the views and experiences of parents and adolescents regarding the role of parent-adolescent communication in shaping the Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) behaviours of adolescents. The study objectives, therefore, assess the perceptions of both parents and adolescents on what information is communicated and how it is communicated within the families in Wakiso district in Uganda. The study was guided by the Family Systems Theory and the Elaboration Likelihood Model, to assess the perceptions of parents and adolescents on what is communicated and how it is communicated respectively. This qualitative study adopted a purposive sampling technique to select parents and adolescents from information-rich schools, willing to participate and able to share their experiences and opinions articulately and reflectively towards parent-adolescent communication. Data collected using semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were audio-taped and notes taken simultaneously before findings were analysed thematically and presented in narrative form. The findings of this study reveal that both parents and adolescents appreciated the importance of engaging in SRH conversations to change adolescent behaviours. However, the conversations were one-way, often initiated by parents which leaves most adolescents dissatisfied with their parents' indirect and authoritarian approaches used to deliver SRH messages which are vague and not age-appropriate. The other common characteristics of the SRH communication were fear-appeal approaches and parental warnings to adolescents promoting self-restraint and chastity before marriage and to prevent STDs. The conclusion drawn from this study revealed that in as much as adolescents trusted and wanted to obtain SRH information from parents, there is a feeling that parents and adolescents find parent-adolescent communication embarrassing. Basing on these findings, there is a need for more research and studies on youth-friendly SRH communication manuals and campaigns to create a culture of SRH conversations as well as streamlining guidelines on the content and approaches to parent-adolescent communication. Additionally, parents need to be sensitised on the advantages of communicating to their adolescents earlier to inculcate a culture of conducting SRH discussions; and to also reduce the embarrassment that comes with parent-adolescent communication on SRH issues.