Exploring the qualitative aspects of peer educator development and assessing training program suitability for adolescent reproductive health in Zambia

  • Esther Munalula Nkandu The University of Zambia, School of Health Sciences https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3313-3518
  • Brian Chiluba The University of Zambia, School of Health Sciences https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4528-142X
  • Munalula Muyangwa Munalula ERES Research ethics committee, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Kris Kapp University of Stellenbosch
Keywords: support and recognition, training programs, adolescent reproductive health, challenges standardisation, peer educators


Background: In Zambia, addressing the multifaceted challenges in adolescent reproductive health has become increasingly imperative as the youth population continues to grow. Peer education programs, a key strategy, leverage the influence of peer dynamics and relatability for effective knowledge dissemination and behavior change among adolescents. However, a lack of standardized guidelines for training adolescent peer educators has led to significant variations in program duration, age criteria, and content among different organizations. To address this issue, stakeholders in Zambia collaborated to create a preliminary training program tailored to the unique needs of adolescent peer educators, emphasizing interactive activities and dynamic discussions. Methods: To develop the training program, extensive data synthesis was conducted. Findings from FGDs were combined with stakeholder input, utilizing a triangulation approach to ensure a well-rounded understanding. This method, based on Fern's concept, involves examining the subject from multiple angles and drawing insights from various research components, emphasizing the need for factual data sources. Diverse data collection methods, including FGDs, document analysis, and stakeholder group interviews, formed the foundation for the training program development, incorporating a wide range of data sources and perspectives. The outcomes of this triangulation process laid the foundation for the meticulous development of the training program, resulting in a holistic understanding and the creation of an effective program. Results: Different organizations' programs were compared, showing variations in duration, age criteria, and content. The study stressed the significance of peer educators in adolescent reproductive health education and the necessity for support, resources, and acknowledgment. Challenges faced by peer educators were discussed, and their relevance to psychological theories was noted. A summary is presented in vital peer education concepts, including age-appropriate training, peer learning, peer educator benefits, cultural sensitivity, and the value of support and supervision. Conclusion: The study underscores the importance of peer educators in adolescent reproductive health education, highlighting the need for support and recognition. Findings reveal variations in training programs and underscore the value of addressing challenges faced by peer educators. Ultimately, the study calls for a more standardized and supportive approach to enhance the effectiveness of such programs.