Background: the attainment of the highest possible level of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is more likely to be achieved when SRH are promoted and protected early on, and include those who are underserved and marginalized, or have no access to information and services. To address priorities for research to improve SRH in female adolescents is a crucial step towards the successful implementation of goals established by the WHO Human Reproductive Program and its partners worldwide, particularly in low- and lower-middle income countries. Cochrane Reviews (CRs) are acknowledged to be methodological rigorous and of high quality.
1) To identify CRs including an adolescent female population that approximates the WHO definition.
2) To determine the spectrum of interventions according to the following list of priority topics:
- prevention of adolescent/gender-based/self-directed violence;
- prevention of child maltreatment and sexual abuse;
- female genital mutilation;
- contraception and prevention of unintended pregnancy;
- adolescent pregnancy;
- unsafe abortion;
- prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs); and
- prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.
3) To describe the baseline characteristics of the identified CRs focusing on the above list.
4) To explore barriers and facilitators to address these topics with the best Cochrane coverage, if feasible.
Methods: we will retrieve all CRs and protocols including females adolescents published before October 2019 using the following search strategy: Adolescents OR Adolescents, Female OR Teenagers OR Teens OR Youths OR Adolescence. We will obtain contact details of Cochrane Review authors working on the topics prioritized by WHO. We will send them a short online survey focusing on the limitations and insights of conducting/publishing a CR on a sensitive health topic for the adolescent population.
Results: our preliminary search identified 643 CRs (629 intervention, eight diagnostic, five overviews and one prognostic). We will screen and classify them to determine which topics are addressed, retrieve data about the review team, source of support, Cochrane Review Group, date of last search, databases explored, etc. We will obtain Information about any potential inconveniences related to the systematic review process after the completion and screening of CRs.
Conclusions: this study may highlight the commitment to work on pressing WHO SRH topics in female adolescents made by Cochrane authors so far. Additionally, the findings may allow careful thought about the support needed by review authors working in this area.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement: the importance of this study is indirectly relevant to adolescent patients and health consumers, as they are at the end of the road of application of this evidence. By producing high-quality systematic reviews focused on health priorities and implementation strategies, we could help to bridge the gap between healthcare needs and informed health decision making.