Analysis of communication about pubertal changes between school nurse and adolescent girls in selected private secondary schools in Ile-Ife
School nurses play significant role in communicating reproductive health information to adolescent girls especially during pubertal period which could help make the period less confusing. However, the role of school nurses in such capacity in Nigeria has received limited attention which this study set out to achieve.The study explored the communication process on pubertal changes that occurred between the school nurses and school adolescent girls with a view to investigate the content, methods and media of communication as well as identified the challenges encountered by the nurses in the course of communicating with school adolescent girls on pubertal changes. A descriptive sequential mixed method was adopted for the study. A multistage sampling technique was employed to select 420 adolescent girls from five purposively selected private secondary schools in three local government areas of Ile-Ife. All ten (10) school nurses working in the selected private secondary schools were selected for the qualitative aspect of the study. Inclusion criteria include adolescent girls aged 10-18 years schooling in the selected schools with school clinics and school nurses. A self-developed and validated questionnaire and interview guide were used for data collection. Reliability co-efficient of the instrument was found to be 0.97.Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics (Spearman rho correlation and chi square), while qualitative data was subjected to content analysis using software Alpha 7 ti. Results revealed that the school nurses and school adolescent girls has a mean age of 31.4±6.0 and 13.6±1.7 years respectively. The result showed that communication on pubertal changes is not regular and frequent as 46.4% of the school adolescent girls were educated about physical body changes once in a session by the school nurses,16.2% were taught about menstrual hygiene once a month while,47.6% and 44.3% were never informed about sexual abstinence and teenage pregnancy prevention respectively. Frequency of school nurses’ communication was found to significantly influence the school adolescent girls’ knowledge of pubertal changes (r=-0.099; p=0.043).Group teaching was used to teach 40.5% menstrual hygiene while 40% were taught physical body changes using classroom teaching. Body odour (84.8%), vaginal itching (81.7%), emotional counseling (77.9%) and dysmenorrhoea (65.9%) were the major pubertal health complaints. Good knowledge of pubertal changes was observed among 80.7% of the school girls. Significant association was found between the adolescent girls’ knowledge of pubertal changes and maternal educational level (p=0.008) and paternal educational level (p=0.001). Content analysis of the interviews revealed major challenges encountered by school nurses to be time constraint, topic censorship by the school management, and non availability of teaching/visual aids. The study concluded that efforts should be made to promote school nurses involvement in pubertal education through the full implementation of the national policy on school health in order to promote the sexual and reproductive health of school adolescents.