Cost of Talking Parents, Healthy Teens

A Worksite-Based Intervention to Promote Parent-Adolescent Sexual Health Communication

Published in: Journal of Adolescent Health, v. 53, no. 5, Nov. 2013, p. 595-601

Posted on RAND.org on March 05, 2013

by Joseph A. Ladapo, Marc N. Elliott, Laura M. Bogart, David E. Kanouse, Katherine D. Vestal, David J. Klein, Jessica A Ratner, Mark A. Schuster

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Research Questions

  1. What are the costs of a worksite-based program designed to promote child-parent communication about sexual health?
  2. Is the program cost effective?

PURPOSE: To examine the cost and cost-effectiveness of implementing Talking Parents, Healthy Teens, a worksite-based parenting program designed to help parents address sexual health with their adolescent children. METHODS: We enrolled 535 parents with adolescent children at 13 worksites in southern California in a randomized trial. We used time and wage data from employees involved in implementing the program to estimate fixed and variable costs. We determined cost-effectiveness with nonparametric bootstrap analysis. For the intervention, parents participated in eight weekly 1-hour teaching sessions at lunchtime. The program included games, discussions, role plays, and videotaped role plays to help parents learn to communicate with their children about sex-related topics, teach their children assertiveness and decision-making skills, and supervise and interact with their children more effectively. RESULTS: Implementing the program cost $543.03 (standard deviation, $289.98) per worksite in fixed costs, and $28.05 per parent (standard deviation, $4.08) in variable costs. At 9 months, this $28.05 investment per parent yielded improvements in number of sexual health topics discussed, condom teaching, and communication quality and openness. The cost-effectiveness was $7.42 per new topic discussed using parental responses and $9.18 using adolescent responses. Other efficacy outcomes also yielded favorable cost-effectiveness ratios. CONCLUSIONS: Talking Parents, Healthy Teens demonstrated the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of a worksite-based parenting program to promote parent–adolescent communication about sexual health. Its cost is reasonable and is unlikely to be a significant barrier to adoption and diffusion for most worksites considering its implementation.

Key Findings

Implementing the program cost each worksite about $543 plus $28 for each parent enrolled.

  • This investment yielded meaningful improvements on multiple dimensions of child-parent communication, including number of sexual topics discussed and the quality and openness of communication.
  • Such costs are reasonable and unlikely to be a barrier to the program's adoption.

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