February 27, 2013 — Adolescent girls at high risk of pregnancy who participate in a youth intervention program are more likely to report consistent use of contraception, according to a study in JAMA Pediatrics, MedPage Today reports.
The study included 253 sexually active female teens ages 13 through 17 who were enrolled in Prime Time, a program to teach teens about sexual risks, prevent violence and aggression, and encourage home and school connectedness. Over an 18-month period, the participants met with case managers to discuss contraception and other responsible sexual behaviors, attended training to become peer educators on similar topics and were encouraged to develop leadership skills through community service projects. The program also distributed condoms.
Six months later, a follow-up survey revealed that girls who participated in the program were more likely to report using condoms with their partners all or most of the time, compared with a control group. Program participants also reported more consistent use of hormonal contraceptives than girls not enrolled in the program. In addition, participants felt more self-confident to refuse unwanted sex and less inclined to have sex in order to acquire material possessions.
Participants also reported improvements in family connectedness, which the researchers noted "may be critical to sustaining healthy sexual behaviors, including contraceptive use, especially for youth from disadvantaged contexts." According to the study, 61.5% of program participants were attending school at follow up, compared with 44.2% of the girls not enrolled in the program.
The findings suggest that a "youth development intervention that combines individualized case management and youth leadership components holds great promise for preventing multiple risk behaviors among youth most vulnerable to poor health outcomes, including early pregnancy," the researchers concluded (Walsh, MedPage Today, 2/25).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership