Introduction & Overview

Practitioners applying human-centered design (HCD) on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) are forging a new path of solution development for young people by combining two distinct sectors that work at the nexus of design, public health, and innovation. Given the relative nascency of this practice, there is a lack of robust evidence to determine what are quality approaches to design and implementation in order to achieve desired ASRH outcomes. As the evidence base in this sector continues to build, there is an opportunity to leverage best practices related to ASRH, design, and youth engagement to guide in the creation of quality standards when applying HCD to ASRH interventions. The framework presented here, developed in partnership with the HCDExchange Community of Practice, draws upon the aforementioned best practices to deliver eight principles with corresponding tips and resources. As a whole, the framework is intended to guide the safe, effective, and inclusive practice of HCD to ASRH programming. Although these principles were developed for the application of HCD on ASRH interventions, they also have relevancy to broader global health programming.

We recognize that organizations may have different names for each phase of the design process, but share a common set of activities (see the DesignforHealth guide for more information). The tips presented here map to those activities. This framework should be treated as an adaptable resource based on the needs of different audiences (i.e., implementers, designers, young people, and evaluators).


Timeline for the QSW Framework

The Framework in Full

Principle: Engage youth as design partners

Principle: Ensure equitable inclusion of different subsets of young people

Principle: Develop and implement safeguarding plans for young people

Principle: Embrace an iterative approach to program design and implementation

Principle: Integrate primary and secondary learnings and evidence

Principle: Engage the ecosystem of influencers

Principle: Integrate disciplines essential for adolescent wellbeing

Principle: Document methods and key design decisions


The Quality and Standards Framework was a joint collaboration between YLabs, the HCDExchange Secretariat, and the Quality and Standards Working Group members. The Quality and Standards Working Group (QSWG), chaired by YLabs and the HCDExchange Secretariat, convened young people and experts in HCD and ASRH to develop consensus-driven quality standards for applying HCD to future ASRH projects. These members include Steve Biko, Ipas Kenya; Nicole Ippoliti, YLabs; Dr. Tracy Johnson, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Kamaldeen Ibrahim, Society for Family Health Nigeria; Dr. Sandra McCoy, University of California, Berkeley; Namita Mohandas, Vihara; Michael Ngigi, ThinkPlace Kenya; Dr. Shola Olabode-Dada, YLabs; Dr. Tabinda Sarosh, Pathfinder International, Pakistan; Mireille Sekamana, YLabs Rwanda. The authors would like to express their sincere thanks for the contributions of Kethi Mullei, Meru Vashisht, Saehee Lee, Theodora Gibbs-Plessl, and Dr. Rebecca Hope who contributed their time and expertise to the research and development of this framework. 

This framework would not have been possible without the continuous and invaluable input and review from member organizations of HCDExchange. Through webinars, interviews, and email correspondence, the larger HCDExchange Community of Practice generously contributed their perspective to help shape this framework. Specifically, members of the Community of Practice offered their expertise to develop consensus-driven quality principles, tips, and resources to guide the effective implementation of this framework for diverse audiences. Finally, this work was made possible by a generous grant from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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