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Project Title

Positive Choices: Optimisation, feasibility testing and pilot randomised trial of Positive Choices: a school-based social marketing intervention to promote sexual health, prevent unintended teenage pregnancies and address health inequalities in England

Research Focus:

Maternal and Child Health 

Funder & Dates

This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme (project number 15/03/09) from: 01/04/2017 to: 31/12/2019

Principal Investigator or Primary Supervisor (if PhD project)

Professor Maria Lohan is QUB PI & co-Investiator

Professor Chris Bonell,  London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is Chief Investigator

Co-Investigators or additional supervisors


Research Fellow(s) or PhD Student

Dr Ruth Ponsford, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Name & Institution of Collaborators

Dr Elizabeth Allen (LSHTM)

Prof. Diana Elbourne (LSHTM)

Dr Catherine Mercer (UCL)

Prof. Rona Campbell (Bristol)

Dr Adam Fletcher (Cardiff University)

Dr Honor Young (Cardiff University).

 Professor Steve Morris (University College London) is an expert in and will supervise. Prof. Gerard Hastings (Stirling)

Alison Hadley OBE (University of Bedfordshire)

Dr karin Coyle (City University of New York)

Dr Michael A. Carrera (City University of New York)

Claudia Wells Office for National Statistics

Name of External Partner Organisations


Description of Project:

Aim; Methods; Expected Outcomes

(up to 300 words)

We aim to evaluate Positive Choices, a programme which will be delivered in secondary schools, which aims to prevent unintended teenage pregnancies. The intervention will be optimised in collaboration with the National Children’s Bureau, a secondary school and various other collaborators.



Study design


The Positive Choices intervention will use social marketing strategies and will have several elements; providing education on emotions and relationships; offering sexual health clinics in schools; and helping young people to run campaigns in their school highlighting the importance of making informed decisions about relationships, sex and parenthood.


This research does not assess whether Positive Choices works in reducing unintended teenage pregnancies, but first explores whether the intervention and research methods are practical. This will involve two stages. The first stage will involve assessing the feasibility of positive choices in the school which helped to optimise it, and refining the intervention as necessary. The second stage will involve four state secondary schools delivering the programme and two others acting as comparison.


First, questionnaire surveys will be used to find out about each school’s students before the programme (when students are at the end of year 8, aged 12 or 13). Then we will randomly allocate schools that will deliver the programme and which schools which will act as comparison sites. The programme will then be delivered by teachers who have been trained by the National Children’s Bureau. While the programme is being delivered, we will interview staff and students to find out their views of Positive Choices. We will then administer a second questionnaire survey of students at the end of the programme, by which time they will be at the end of year 9 (aged 13 or 14).


Questions will ask about sexual knowledge, attitudes and behaviour. We will also use routine health service data on births and abortions to check on the rates among our participants.