Mentoring Interventions and the Impact of Protective Assets on the Reproductive Health of Adolescent Girls and Young Women

J Adolesc Health. 2017 Aug;61(2):131-139. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2017.03.002. Epub 2017 May 17.


Adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS and other negative reproductive health (RH) outcomes. Emerging evidence suggests that programs to build AGYW's assets can help reduce their vulnerability to poor RH. Mentoring interventions have demonstrated a positive impact on a variety of youth development outcomes, including the protective assets needed to circumvent poor RH outcomes. The purpose of this review was to understand the types of mentoring programs for AGYW that have demonstrated effectiveness in improving protective assets, and/or, RH knowledge, intentions, behaviors, or outcomes themselves. Interventions were identified through an electronic search of the peer-reviewed and the gray literature. Studies were excluded in stages based on reviews of titles, abstracts, and full text. A review of 491 publications yielded a total of 19 articles that were included in the final review. The majority of the publications examined the impact of the one-to-one mentoring model in the United States. However, a good proportion examined the impact of both one-on-one and group-based interventions globally. The few interventions that followed a group-based model demonstrated more promise; evaluations of this model demonstrated a positive impact on RH knowledge and behavior, academic achievement, financial behavior, and social networks, as well as reductions in the experience of violence. Group-based mentoring programs demonstrated the most promise in building AGYW's protective assets and improving their RH outcomes. The most successful interventions consisted of multiple components, including mentoring, that sought to directly improve AGYW's protective assets and met with more frequency over a longer duration. Despite the promising evidence, more research is needed to better understand the relationship between assets and RH; the characteristics of successful mentoring programs; and the influence mentoring alone has on RH outcomes, versus mentoring as part of a larger RH program.

Keywords: Adolescent girls; Assets building; HIV; Mentoring; Reproductive health; Social cohesion; Young women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Mentoring / methods*
  • Mentors / statistics & numerical data
  • Peer Group
  • Reproductive Health / education*
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology