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An Analysis of Teen Pregnancy Preventions Shows Mixed Success


  • Do teen pregnancy programs continue to work in the long-term?
  • We used rigorous experimental design evaluations to test multiple replications of three widely-used, evidence-based programs
  • The results were mixed
The Challenge

A number of teen pregnancy prevention (TPP) programs have reputations for working. But evaluations were needed to determine if they continue to work after the intervention ends and whether other jurisdictions could replicate their success.

The Approach

The Abt team used rigorous experimental design evaluations to test multiple replications of three widely-used, evidence-based program models to determine their effectiveness in different settings and populations. This strategy enabled an examination of variation in impact across replications and evidence about the generalizability of program effectiveness. The comprehensive implementation study provided information about the contexts in which evidence-based programs are implemented, implementation challenges, and implementation aspects associated with program impacts.

The models examined included:

  • Cuidate! [an HIV/sexually transmitted infection (STI) risk reduction program]
  • Reducing the Risk (a sexuality education curriculum)
  • Safer Sex (a clinic-based HIV/STI prevention program for high-risk adolescent females)

Abt estimated program impact using an experimental design that randomly assigned approximately 9,000 youth in nine locations to treatment and control conditions. The unit of random assignment was the individual or school class, depending upon the program setting. The evaluation team collected baseline information at enrollment, short-term outcome data at a follow-up survey between six and 12 months after assignment, and longer-term outcome data at a follow-up survey administered between 18 and 24 months after assignment. Comparison of outcomes for program and control groups provided important information about the effectiveness of the programs in reducing teen pregnancy and associated risky behavior.

The Results

The results were mixed. Researchers determined that the Safer Sex Intervention produced significant changes in sexual behaviors and sexual risk behavior. Reducing the Risk did not change sexual behavior, but did demonstrate positive impacts on knowledge about and attitudes toward risky sexual behavior and protection. Cuídate! had no impact on sexual behavior but was effective in improving knowledge and attitudes.

Focus Areas
North America