Increasing Access to Program Information: A Strategy for Improving Adolescent Health

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ObjectivesTo identify existing programs serving 11- to 15-year-olds that aim to improve adolescent health in the areas of Health & Well-being, Fitness, Family & Peer Relationships, School Environment, Smoking, Alcohol Use, and Violence and to assess the utility of readily available resources in providing detailed program information.MethodsIn Phase 1, publicly available program databases were searched to identify potential programs serving the target population. In Phase 2, an in-depth search of a limited sample of programs meeting the content and age criteria was performed to identify program descriptors.ResultsOver 1,000 program names were identified in Phase 1. Information regarding programs is becoming more readily available through the internet; however, the program information that was publicly available only begins to draw the picture. Phase 2 revealed that a broad array of efforts are underway in all seven content areas, but found information on the program descriptors to be limited.ConclusionsInvestment in programming is not enough; an upfront investment in communication and information sharing is critical in order to maximize the resources dedicated to the improvement of adolescent health. A well-publicized centralized program repository offered in conjunction with technical assistance would provide an efficient mechanism for this information sharing. We further suggest that the inherent gap between research and practice can be lessened by building a new body of practice knowledge. This would require improved program data collection by programs, the incorporation of program participation information in national surveys and enhanced evaluation efforts.

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