But does it work? Improving evaluations of sexuality education.

D. W. Haffner, E. S. Goldfarb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This report discusses a 1996 symposium of 15 of the US's most prominent sex education and adolescent pregnancy prevention researchers convened by SIECUS to seek ways to improve evaluation of sex education programs in the US by considering 1) the status of current evaluation research on sex education; 2) if the impact of sex education on body image, self-esteem, relationships, and adult sexual health can be measured; 3) what methodologies can improve sex education program evaluation; and 4) what information program managers, evaluators, and funders need. The report lists the goals of comprehensive sex education, including promotion of the 36 life behaviors of a sexually healthy adult (reprinted with this article). The report reviews the hallmarks of quality sex education programs derived from the results of recent evaluations of effective sex education, adolescent pregnancy prevention, and HIV prevention programs. Symposium participants considered reasons for the scarcity of quality evaluations and identified eight unique challenges faced by evaluators of comprehensive sex education programs. Discussion of evaluation methodology centered on the criteria for quality evaluations and the fact that not all programs require such a high level of evaluation. The symposium did not address basic research methods but urged that evaluations combine qualitative and quantitative techniques (each method is defined and the three main objectives of qualitative evaluations are listed). Suggestions arising from the symposium discussion of life behaviors of a sexually health adult are provided, including ways to measure impact on appreciation of one's own body, effective communication, effective decision-making, holding values, and gender relations. Recommendations are provided for improving evaluations and are specified for program directors, evaluators, and funders. It is concluded that the symposium and this report represent an important beginning in the effort to improve evaluation of sex education programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-12
Number of pages10
JournalSIECUS report
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997


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