Date of Defense:
June 16, 2011
Objective: Comprehensive sexual education programs have demonstrated effective results in reducing sexual risk taking among adolescents. These analyses examined one such curriculum, Reducing the Risk (RTR), and characterized students who reported an increase, a decrease, or no change in attitudes, knowledge, and/or behaviors related to sex and reproductive health topics six months following the intervention.
Methods: Using a pre-test and six month post-test design, data from ninth and tenth grade students from Richfield High School (MN) who received RTR instruction were analyzed (n=205). We conducted bivariate analyses (paired t-test of means stratified by sex) to determine whether there were statistically significant differences between pre-survey and post 2-survey scores and conducted two-tailed t-tests of means (stratified by sex) to determine what characteristics were associated with total knowledge change.
Results: Six months following instruction, both females and males demonstrated significant gains in knowledge, parental communication, and self-efficacy. Females and males demonstrated significant decreases in beliefs regarding sexual behaviors, particularly regarding condom use and delay of sexual debut. Significant improvements in total knowledge change occurred within the subgroups of grade, race, Hispanic ethnicity, two-parent household, receiving free or reduced-price lunches, mother’s age at first birth, and length of time lived in the U.S, and when these individual characteristics were further stratified by sex, significant differences were seen in grade for females and males and for males whose mothers were aged 15-18 at first birth.
Conclusion: These analyses support that overall, RTR does have positive effects on reducing sexual risk taking behaviors among adolescents.