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New Study Shows that Innovative Chat/Text Tools Can Reach Young People with Sex and Health Information During Critical Moments

NEW YORK — A new study published Friday, September 20, in the Journal of Medical Internet Research shows that, in its first year, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s innovative Chat/Text program was able to reach 32,589 young people with critical information about sex and health in moments of intense worry when they were in need of fast, confidential help. The program reached substantial numbers of African-American and Latino youth and was successful in reducing worry, particularly among teens age 17 and younger and Latino users. The study was authored by Margaret Giorgio, from the Department of Nutrition, Public Health, and Food Studies at New York University, and Leslie Kantor, Deborah Levine and Whitney Arons from Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

In September 2010, Planned Parenthood launched the program, which enables young people to correspond with trained staff via IM or text messages with urgent questions about birth control failure, emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, or STDs. The program has now reached more than 250,000 people; 40 percent of users aged 15-24 are African American and Latino.

You can view Chat/Text at www.plannedparenthood.org/chat or by texting to 774636. You can view the study here: www.jmir.org/2013/9/e203/.

Statement from Leslie Kantor, Vice President of Education at Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“This study shows that we can use technology to meet young people where they are, and when they need us most, and give them the information they need in order to make healthy decisions. High anxiety may get in the way of good decision making.  This service helps reduce worry and guides people to the next appropriate step in taking care of their health.

“It’s particularly important that we’ve been able to reach so many African-American and Latino youth through our Chat/Text program.  These communities continue to experience significant disparities related to sexual and reproductive health.

“Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider of reproductive health care and sex education. Every year, nearly three million patients come to Planned Parenthood’s health centers and more than a million people attend in person our sex education programs. In 97 years, we’ve gone from running a tiny storefront birth control clinic in Brooklyn to pioneering the use of technology to reach young people wherever they are — and we’re just getting started.”

Background about Planned Parenthood’s Chat/Text program:

  • Nearly 40 percent of all teens aged 14 to 17 are using digital technologies to seek out health related information, including information on sexual health.
  • Planned Parenthood’s Chat/Text program is currently offered 91 hours per week (Monday-Thursday: 9 a.m. – 12 a.m. ET, Friday: 9a.m. – 10p.m. ET, Saturday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET, Sunday: 2 p.m. – 12 a.m. ET).
  • Since its inception in 2010, the program has reached more than 250,000 people; 40 percent of users aged 15-24 are African-American and Latino.
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Contacts

 Planned Parenthood media office, 212-261-4433

Published: 09.23.13

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