Success of Chat/Text Program Highlights Need for New Sex Education Solutions,
Shows Technology Can Help Young People Get the Information They Need to Stay Healthy
NEW YORK, NY — Planned Parenthood is celebrating a milestone: Half a million conversations as part of Planned Parenthood’s Chat/Text program, which allows young people to live-chat with a trained health educator in real time from a cell phone or computer. Last month alone, educators had over 10,000 conversations with users; the 500,000th chat was with a young woman concerned that she might be pregnant and asking about symptoms of pregnancy.
Planned Parenthood’s Chat/Text program underscores the importance of using technology to help young people get the information they need to stay healthy, where and when they need it. Just last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that in most U.S. states, fewer than half of high schools and just one in five middle schools teach all the essential sex education topics recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – showing that too many young people are still being deprived of information critical to their sexual health.
“We’re thrilled that so many young people have taken advantage of our Chat/Text service to get the information they need to make healthy decisions,” said Dr. Leslie Kantor, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s vice president of education. “Today’s technology makes it possible for young people who are looking for resources to access them in multiple ways, and Planned Parenthood is committed to provide accurate, nonjudgmental information to as many young people as possible, where they are and when they need it most. Being able to interact with a real person in real time can lower anxiety and guide people to the next best step in taking care of their health.”
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 Federation of America’s innovative Chat/Text program was launched in September 2010 and allows young people to correspond with trained staff with urgent questions about their sexual and reproductive health, including birth control, emergency contraception, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections using text messaging or instant messaging. The program offers young people accurate and nonjudgmental information, and is available at www.plannedparenthood.org/chat or by text at 774636.
A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in 2013 showed that, in its first year, the program was able to successfully reach 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 was shown to be successful in reducing worry, particularly among teens aged 17 and younger and Latino users. To date, the program has had more than 500,000 conversations, and is currently undergoing a rigorous evaluation to further assess its impact on users.
As the nation’s leading provider of reproductive health care and sex education, Planned Parenthood works every day to get young people the information they need to make healthy decisions. Each year, Planned Parenthood provides comprehensive sex education and outreach to 1.5 million people and 2.7 million patients come to Planned Parenthood health centers. Planned Parenthood websites, including Planned Parenthood en Español, receive an estimated 60 million visits each year.
Background on 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: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET, Saturday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET, Sunday: 2 p.m. – 12 a.m. ET).
- Since its start in 2010, there have been more than 500,000 chats as part of the Planned Parenthood’s Chat/Text program; 40% of users are young people of color.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433
December 15, 2015