Background: Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) remain a public health challenge in the United States, with 50% of new infections occurring among young adolescents (Weinstock, 2004).
Objectives: This study reports the results of a sexuality and reproductive health intervention targeted to reduce pregnancies and STIs among adolescents, and increase communication of medically accurate sexuality information.
Methods: A peer delivered comprehensive reproductive health education curriculum was conducted over 36- contact-hours. Participants were recruited from community schools and received parental permission prior to enrollment. Participants (n=248) completed a 21-item Reproductive Health Information (RHI) Scale (Cronbach's α = 74.7) assessing knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes before and after the curriculum was administered.
Results: The average pre and post intervention score on the RHI scale was 13.1 (SD=3.63) and 17.1 (SD=2.81) respectively [t=-18.19, p<0.0001]. Multivariate analysis revealed a significant model, F (156)=8.5, p<.0001 accounting for 24.7% of the variance in the Pre-test RHI scale. Significant predictors at pre-test include communicating with teachers/ adults about general problems (b=1.99, t=3.73, p<.0001), communicating with a date (b=1.65, t=2.6, p<.05) and being African American female (b=-1.7, t=-2.6, p<.05). About 12.5% of the variance in RHI score was explained at post-test, F (168)=6.00, p<.0001), where talking with friends about sex (b=1.4, t=2.5, p<.05) was a significant predictor.
Conclusions: The intervention was effective in increasing knowledge about reproductive health information. For adolescents, communication with friends and peers was identified as a significant source of obtaining sexuality and reproductive health related information.
Implications for Programs, Policy, and/or Research:Program implications include increasing medically accurate knowledge and communication about STI's among teens across the U.S. Comprehensive reproductive health education programs are imperative in protecting the well-being of adolescents within the U.S. Longitudinal research is needed to assess the retention of knowledge and behavior change over time.