At Ci3, we know that rigorous scientific research is at the core of improving the health and well-being of young people. Our research informs everything that we do. In addition to collaborating with our labs to study storytelling, design, and games, Ci3’s research team has taken on many new projects to advance adolescent health.
Working to prevent poor health among sexual and gender minority youth
It may come as no surprise that stable housing, employment, and access to health care are important factors influencing the health and well-being of all young people. However, for sexual and gender minority youth, including transgender youth, these structural factors may be challenged by stigma, discrimination and inadequate legal protections, limiting access to healthcare and resulting in poor health. As a member of the new National Institutes of Health Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions, Ci3 is working to design an employment-based intervention to prevent poor mental and physical health outcomes among sexual and gender minority youth of color.
Not all young people have accurate information about the range of available contraceptive methods. Through a prior study, we found that even within high-quality health care settings, busy providers lack the time and educational materials to make certain that young people have in-depth knowledge and understanding about all contraception methods. Thus, we worked directly with young women to design our miPlan app, an iPad-based tool that teaches young people about all contraception options during clinic waiting room time. Findings from our recent randomized controlled trial demonstrated that miPlan users had increased contraceptive knowledge and intended to use more effective methods of contraception, compared to patients who received the standard clinic care—suggesting that miPlan users entered their contraception visit well prepared to knowledgeably talk to their healthcare provider about contraception.
While the rates of teenage pregnancy are at an all-time low, adolescents are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted infections. Thus, we created rPlan, a sister project to miPlan. This new app, was designed with adolescents to help them identify a strategy to prevent both sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. The app helps adolescents create an individualized plan, using videos that model behaviors to help build skills both in using condoms, as well as, negotiating condom and contraception use with their partners. Enrollment is now completed for our initial study. Soon we will be reporting on the potential effect of rPlan on adolescent contraception and condom use.
Although the use of antiretroviral medications as prevention for HIV infection, or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), has been approved for use among young adults, awareness and knowledge of this new prevention strategy is limited, particularly among young gay and bisexual men of color. To address this critical gap, Ci3’s research team collaborated with members of the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research and AIDS Foundation of Chicago, to develop an informational mobile app, miPrEP, which uses animation and digital media to inform young men how PrEP prevents HIV in the body, possible side effects of the medication, and how to access and pay for PrEP. miPrEP recently completed data collection, findings will be released in early 2017.