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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB: Engaging African American Youth in the Development of a Serious Mobile Game for Sexual Health Education – Mixed Methods Study

The sexual health of adolescents and young adults in the United States remains a public health crisis. Sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates disproportionately affect African American youth and young adults. Innovative, accessible, and culturally relevant sexual health interventions are urgently needed. Youths aged 15 to 24 years acquire half of all new sexually transmitted infections (STIs), yet many do not obtain screening.

A team of researchers collaborated on this study, including Dr. Robin Lanzi, Mr. Brook Araya, Department of Health Behavior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, Dr. Corilyn Ott, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine at UAB.

This study aimed to identify the optimal modality for a game-based sexual health intervention; develop the educational, entertainment, and technological aspects of the serious game; and demonstrate its usability and acceptance by the target population. Sexually Active Adolescent–Focused Education (SAAFE) was developed using input and feedback from African American youths aged 15 to 21. SAAFE is a highly usable mobile game that effectively engages African American youth to learn about and simulate healthy sexual behaviors.

In conclusion, SAAFE has the potential to help meet the need for innovative approaches to sex education and offers an opportunity to augment more traditional didactic sexual health education in an effort to promote healthy sexual behaviors and reduce the burden of STIs among African American youth. If proven efficacious, the game has the potential to meet the need for sex education, counterbalance unhealthy portrayals of sex in popular media, and respond to the disparities in the STI epidemic.

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