PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the innovative project "Nécessaire" on sexual and reproductive health promotion. "Nécessaire" was developed for young women and carried out in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. The concept consisted of giving theoretical information in a brochure suitable for young women in its design combined with several items (such as condom, chewing gum, sticker) in a spongebag.
METHOD: Young women (n = 183) as well as professionals (n = 154) were asked to give their opinion on the "Necessaire" by filling in a semi-structured questionnaire. In addition, the product ordering was monitored over 7 months, in order to examine the use of the product by various institutions.
RESULTS: On the whole, the young women praised the product. They especially liked the brochure, which was made up like a diary written by a young woman called Rosa. According to their answers the combination of information and useful items stimulated the reflection on topics like sexuality, love, and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Critical voices pointed out the need for interventions aimed at young men, in order to make them more aware of their responsibility in contraception, HIV prevention and partnerships. The professionals generally would like to continue using the product in their work with young women. Many of them asked for more accompanying material with practical ideas for using the product. A similar product for young men and foreign youngsters was often asked for. The monitoring of the product ordering showed that schools and institutions such as youth centres evinced the greatest interest in the product. This contrasted with the results of a feasibility study conducted in advance. Although medical and advice centres indicated a need for a product to support professionals counselling young women, these institutions ordered relatively few kits.
CONCLUSION: Generally speaking the "Nécessaire" was well received by young women as well as by professionals. It not only informs on sexual health but also promotes preventive behaviour in daily life. The product was not used as an aid for counselling young women as much as was intended. It is suggested to promote the Nécessaire's use by taking specific measures like developing written material with practical ideas for professionals. In the case of developing a similar product for young men and migrants, their specific backgrounds and cultures should be taken into account and the material adapted accordingly.