Evaluating the Impact of a Theory-Based Sexuality and Contraceptive Education Program

Published in: Family Planning Perspectives, v. 22, no. 6, Nov.-Dec. 1990 p. 261-271

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1990

by Marvin Eisen, Gail L. Zellman, Alfred L. Mcalister

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A controlled field study involving 1,444 adolescent males and females 13-19 years of age was performed to compare a sexuality education program based on the health belief model and social learning theory with several publicly funded community-based and school-based interventions. Among males who had never had intercourse prior to participating in the study, those in the experimental program were more likely than those in the comparison programs to maintain abstinence over the next year; there was no program effect, however, among females. Among female adolescents who initiated intercourse after the start of the study, attendees of the comparison programs were more likely to have used an effective contraceptive at most recent intercourse and to have used an effective method more consistently than were those who attended the experimental program; no such association was seen among comparable young men. Both experimental and comparison programs significantly increased the consistent use of effective methods among teenagers who had been coitally active before attending the programs. Among males, however, when preintervention contraceptive efficiency was held constant, the experimental program led to significantly greater contraceptive efficiency during the follow-up year than did the comparison programs; among females, the two approaches produced an equivalent degree of improvement. Finally, prior exposure to sexuality education was associated with greater contraceptive efficiency at the one-year follow-up among almost all sexual-experience and gender groups, regardless of the type of intervention program attended. A controlled field study involving 1444 adolescent males and females ages 13-19 was performed to compare a sexuality education program based on the health belief model and social learning theory with several publicly funded community and school-based intervention. Among males who has never has intercourse prior to their participation in the study, those in the experimental program were more likely than those in the comparison programs to maintain abstinence over the next year. There was no program effect, however, among females. Among female adolescents who initiated intercourse after the start of the study, attendees of the comparison programs were more likely to have used an effective contraceptive at most recent intercourse and to have used an effective method more consistently than were those who attended the experimental program. No such association was seen among comparable young men. Both experimental and comparison programs significantly increased the consistent use of effective methods among teenagers who has been coitally active before attending the programs. Among males, however, when preintervention contraceptive efficiency was held constant, the experimental program led to significantly greater contraceptive efficiency over the follow-up year than did the comparison programs. Among females, however, the 2 approaches produced an equivalent degree of improvement. Finally, prior exposure to sex education was associated with greater contraceptive efficiency at the 1-year follow-up among almost all sexual experience and gender groups, regardless of the type of intervention program attended.

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