Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Helping parents in developing countries improve adolescents' health

World Health Organization

Publication details

Number of pages: 37
Publication date: 2007
Languages: English, French
ISBN: 9789241595841



In 2005, CAH and the Department of Population and Family Health of Johns Hopkins University undertook a literature review to capture recent research on parenting of adolescents in developing countries and in particular to examine the evidence for specific parenting roles that programmes could aim to promote and improve. Given the importance of parents in adolescents’ worlds, what are the specific ways that they influence adolescent health? In addition, how can we translate that knowledge into actions?

WHO convened a meeting in October with researchers and representatives from some projects currently under way in developing countries. A summary of the discussions in the meeting is available in a document entitled 'Helping parents in developing countries improve adolescents’ health' which highlights the importance of parents in preventing adolescent health risk behaviours, the ways in which parents influence these behaviours, and their implications for programmes aiming to improve adolescent health.

Parents’ roles are organized into five dimensions, each of which has specific influences on adolescent health outcomes:

  • connection – love
  • behaviour control – limit
  • respect for individuality – respect
  • modelling of appropriate behaviour – model
  • provision and protection – provide.

These parenting roles are played out in the daily interactions with adolescents. Parents are usually unconscious of the individual roles and of their potential consequences on health and development.

Each of the five roles is described including its contribution to adolescent health and the corresponding evidence base. Also outlined, where available knowledge exists, are its implications for programmes, including activities that can be delivered to parents to enhance each role and examples of projects currently engaged in activities that address that role.

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