The impact of Laduma, a health education intervention, on the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices regarding sexually transmitted infections among secondary school learners in KwaZulu-Natal.
MetadataShow full item record
Purpose To evaluate the impact of Laduma, a health education intervention, on the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices regarding sexually transmitted infections among secondary school learners in KwaZulu-Natal. Objectives The objectives of the study were to determine knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and practices of secondary school learners regarding sexually transmitted infections at baseline and post-exposure to Laduma; assess intended behaviour change regarding sexually transmitted infections and condom use as well as the awareness of skills to achieve such behaviour; assess learners' perceived vulnerability to sexually transmitted infections; assess comprehension, acceptability and appeal of the photonovella among learners and to assess whether learners can identify with the characters and situations in the photo-novella. Design This was an experimental study design. Setting Nineteen randomly selected secondary schools in the Midlands district of KwaZulu-Natal. Subjects Grade 11 learners, n = 1168, from randomly selected schools that were further randomised into intervention and control groups. Outcome Measures The learners had to complete three sets of questionnaires that elicited information about their biographical profile, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and practices regarding sexually transmitted infections, intention to change their behaviour with regard to sexually transmitted infections and condom use, as well as their skills to achieve such behaviour, their perceived vulnerability to sexually transmitted infections and their perceptions of Laduma. All of these outcomes were assessed at baseline (Tl), following the learners' exposure to Laduma (T2, three weeks after the baseline), as well as six weeks later (T3) in the case of the intervention group. With respect to the control group they had to answer the baseline questionnaire on all three occasions. Results The mean age of the respondents was 16.8 years with almost two thirds of the learners being between the ages of 15 - 18 years. Seventy percent were primarily Zulu speaking. Learners reported feeling personally scared of getting a sexually transmitted infection with 17.8% responding that they thought they could get a sexually transmitted infection in the next two years. There was a significant gender difference between male and female learners in their topics of communication to friends, parents and partners regarding HIV/AIDS, condom use, having sex or not having sex (p < 0.01). Although learners had adequate knowledge about the spread of sexually transmitted infections at baseline, the mean scores for the spread for the group exposed to Laduma differed significantly from the mean scores of the control group, both immediately after the intervention (p < 0.01) and six weeks thereafter (p < 0.001). Learners in the intervention group responded more positively towards condom use at time 2 (T2) than the control group and maintained this change six weeks later. Sexual activity and condom use at time 3 (T3) was not influenced by the intervention but was significantly predicted by past sexual activity (p< 0.001) and past condom use (p < 0.001) respectively. At time 3 (T3) significantly more learners in the intervention group intended to have sex with a condom (65.1 %) compared to the control group (52.3%, p < 0.05). Overall learners had a positive response to Laduma and appreciated it as a health education intervention. Conclusion and Recommendation The findings of this study provided important information about adolescent sexuality on a range of outcomes related to knowledge, attitudes and sexual behaviour. The findings also provided information on learners' gender differences about what they communicate and to whom, as well as their sexual behaviour. After a single reading of Laduma learners showed an increase in knowledge about the spread of sexually transmitted infections, a change in their attitude to condom use as well as an increased intention to practice safer sex. Laduma did not influence communication about sexually transmitted infections, sexual behaviour nor condom use. These are complex behaviours and indicate that interventions focussing on preventive sexual behaviour need to move beyond awareness and information dissemination towards being more intensive and skills focussed. Such interventions need to address the gaps between knowledge and practice and be facilitated in a context that supports such implementation. The specific recommendations made from the findings of this study therefore include, the development of a systematic health promotion programme that addresses the issues related to personal vulnerability, knowledge related to treatment of and protection against sexually transmitted infections as well as skills that promote safer sexual choice.