• Journal Article

Postponing sexual intercourse among urban junior high school students - A randomized controlled evaluation

Citation

Aarons, S. J., Jenkins, R. R., Raine, T. R., El Khorazaty, M. N., Woodward, K. M., Williams, R., ... Wingrove, B. K. (2000). Postponing sexual intercourse among urban junior high school students - A randomized controlled evaluation. Journal of Adolescent Health, 27(4), 236-247. DOI: 10.1016/S1054-139X(00)00102-6

Abstract

Purpose: To describe a randomized, controlled evaluation of a school-based intervention to delay sexual intercourse among urban junior high school students.

Methods: Six Washington, D.C., junior high schools were randomly assigned to the intervention or nonintervention control condition for an educational program. During the first school year, seventh graders (n = 582) from the six schools obtained written parental consent to participate. Three health professionals (one per intervention school) implemented the program, which consisted of reproductive health classes, the Postponing Sexual Involvement Curriculum, health risk screening, and “booster” educational activities during the following (eighth grade) school year. Cross-sectional surveys were administered at baseline, the end of the seventh grade, and the beginning and end of the eighth grade. Intervention and control group differences in virginity, attitudes toward delayed sex and childbearing, and sexual knowledge and behavior were assessed at all four time points.

Results: At baseline, 44% of the seventh grade males and 81% of the seventh grade females reported being virgins. At the end of the seventh grade (first follow-up), after controlling for baseline study group differences, intervention-group females were more likely to report virginity, self-efficacy to refuse sex with a boyfriend, and the intention to avoid sexual involvement during the following 6 months. At the end of the eighth grade, significantly more intervention- than control-group females reported virginity, birth control use at last intercourse (for nonvirgins), and knowledge of adolescent reproductive health and confidentiality rights. No changes in virginity, self-efficacy to refuse sex, or sexual intent for the next 6 months were observed among male participants at any time during the study. However, on all three follow-up surveys, intervention-group males scored significantly higher than their control-group counterparts in knowledge of birth control method efficacy. No change in attitudes toward abstinence was observed for either gender at any follow-up point.

Conclusions: Gender differences in baseline sexual activity rates and in various study outcomes suggest a possible need for separate, gender-specific intervention activities that can adequately address the social and cognitive needs of both sexes.