Guidance on Ethical Considerations in Planning and Reviewing Research Studies on Sexual and Reproductive Health in Adolescents

Publication language
Date published
01 Jan 2018
Tools, guidelines and methodologies
Children & youth, Health, Principles & ethics

Adolescence – defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the second decade of life – is a time when enormous physical, psychological and social changes occur. This is a time when individuals initiate and experiment with “adult behaviours”, such as sexual activity and substance use (1). These behaviours can result in negative health outcomes, such as unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, and negative social outcomes, such as school dropout and social exclusion (2,3). Research relating to this population is crucial. However, the participation of adolescents in health research poses legal and ethical challenges, particularly when the research focuses on sexual and reproductive health. This document highlights some of these challenges and outlines how they may be addressed. It is intended to provide practical guidance to people involved in sexual and reproductive health research with adolescents.