Background: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of peer education among university students for reproductive health promotion based on researchers' experiences.
Methods: This interventional study was conducted in Qazvin University of Medical Science during 2002 to 2004 through stakeholders' partnership and selection of 24 volunteer students according to their knowledge, interest, communication skills. Capacity building was performed through holding an interactive reproductive health coarse contained marital health, illegal abortion, family planning, STI/AIDS, communication and counseling skills. Trained peer educators have introduced to other student and present education and counseling formally and informally. A post interventional study was conducted after 9 months in order to find its effectiveness.
Results: In our experience Stakeholders' partnership in community interventional programs led to the best expected availability of better health through ownership and adopting policies. In present study, the proper determined criteria for selection of peer educators and clear understood expectations of the peer educators' role were very important in health promotional program. Although peer education was acceptable program for university students, more support and supervising for peer groups are needed. The students believed that the power point of peer education and counseling related to same age groups sympathy, confident, well behaved, cheerful, and kind-hearted and peer educators awareness.
Conclusion: Universities are appropriate real world for experience a friendly youth program and then disseminate it to other young communities. There seems peer education is effective strategy for reproductive health promotion and reinforce positive behaviors in youth.
Key words: Peer education, Reproductive health, University students, Iran
A peer group is a group with the same age, social status and interests (1). Peers provide a context for sociable behavior, personal relationship and a sense of belonging (2). These characteristics of peer group lead to consider peer education as an effective behavioral change strategy in reproductive health world wide. In the youth world, reproductive health information is available but it may be transferred in a manner that is not adapted to the young people's values and life style.
Young peers have a strong influence on their risky and safe behaviors. In this regard, peer education is an effective way for reproductive health promotion, because it is a communication between equals and this equality lead to sympathy and empathy.
For recognize the power of peer education in the world of the youth, some studies have been performed in Iran and other countries. A study demonstrated that peer education is an effective method for HIV/AIDS knowledge promotion and safe sex behaviors (3). Similarly, other studies showed that peer education in STI/AIDS prevention programs in high school and college students is effective in both knowledge promotion and change behavior intention long term (4, 5).
Another study showed; during the evaluation of peer education program for adolescents achieve the results in effectiveness of peer education on STI prevention and family planning knowledge increase (6). By the way, in conducted a FGD in Thailand youth said that they did not like formal reproductive health counseling in governmental centers and they preferred youth friendly centers and informal contact with counselors (7).
One of the dominant themes in a performed FGD in Iranian medical science university was peer education. This study's participants believed that peer groups are similar and these similarities make possible better understand and acceptance of viewpoints positively. They could influence them non-judgmental and non-authoritarian. In addition, they said that university students need a youth friendly counseling center for reproductive health subjects (8). …