Context: Despite drops in U.S. teenage birthrates, questions continue to arise about how best to reduce the country's adolescent birthrate. School-based programs continue to be considered one of the best ways to reach adolescents at risk of early sexual activity. Methods: A total of 312 students completed a pretest, a posttest and a follow-up one year after the posttest: 125 who had participated in a 3-4-month-long abstinence-based small-group intervention led by trained social workers, and 187 in a comparison group that received no special services. Results: There were few significant differences between the intervention and comparison groups at posttest. At the one-year follow-up, however, intervention students had significantly better scores on locus of control, their relationship with their parents and (among males only) their attitudes about the appropriateness of teenage sex. Measures of depression, self-esteem, intentions to have sex, attitudes toward teenage pregnancy and various behaviors did not differ significantly between groups. By the time of the one-year follow-up, there was no difference between study groups among females in the initiation of sexual intercourse. Among the males, initiation of sexual intercourse appeared to be higher in the intervention group than in the comparison group, but the difference was not statistically significant. Positive outcomes were especially limited among students who were already sexually active at the start of the study, a finding that emphasizes the difficulties of reaching adolescents who are already at high risk for pregnancy. Conclusions: A small-group abstinence-based intervention focusing on mental health can have some impact on adolescents' attitudes and relationships (particularly with their parents). Long-term evaluations are important for determining the effects of an intervention, as it is difficult to change adolescent risk behavior.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Family Planning Perspectives|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 2000|