The innovative healthcare service, Families Talking Together, promotes adolescent sexual and reproductive health by supporting the family. It will also develop a remote-participation component.

Map showing Mott Haven in red.
Mott Haven in The Bronx.

A $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been approved for the development of innovative service-delivery mechanisms through “Families Talking Together” (FTT), a healthcare intervention that promotes adolescent sexual and reproductive health through the family. As part of the three-year grant, a digital version will be created for situations in which face-to-face delivery is not possible.

The grant, which is administered by the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, sets the stage for deepening the evidence base for the new FTT service delivery mechanisms. The data will be gathered and evaluated by Vincent Guilamo-Ramos and research scientists Marco Thimm-Kaiser and Adam Benzekri of the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) at New York University. Professor Guilamo-Ramos is the director of CLAFH, a professor at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work, and the primary developer of the path-breaking FTT healthcare intervention.

Families Talking Together supports parent-adolescent communication and parental monitoring and involvement and is designed to reduce premature sexual activity, unwanted pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections. The grant-supported study will entail participation of 600 Latino and Black parent-adolescent dyads in Mott Haven, a socially and economically underserved community at the southern tip of The Bronx, where substantial adolescent sexual and reproductive health disparities are present. In the research, families will work with community health workers who will be trained as “life opportunity coaches” to deliver FTT services to family members.

The problems addressed by FTT are ongoing public health priorities. Despite reductions in adolescent sexual behavior over the past decade, premature sexual activity remains prevalent among adolescents, and alarming adolescent sexual and reproductive health disparities exist, particularly among Latino and Black adolescents. The adverse consequences of premature adolescent sexual behavior are well documented, including negative effects on the physical, emotional, social, and economic well-being of young people.

Research has identified adolescent protective factors, such as strong family support, that are associated with increased sexual risk avoidance, as well as individual life opportunities and societal benefits. Therefore, evidence-based delivery mechanisms that can support the scale-up of effective, culturally tailored, medically accurate, and age-appropriate interventions to strengthen the role of parents in adolescent sexual and reproductive health promotion are needed, particularly for populations in greatest need.

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Robert Polner
Robert Polner
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