Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs. Findings

Two potential mediators from the initial follow-up survey  views supportive of abstinence and friends support for abstinence  were significantly predictive of reported sexual abstinence on the final follow-up survey (Table VI.1).  Specifically, youth reporting views more supportive of abstinence were more likely to report abstaining from sexual intercourse on the later survey. The magnitude is large; a one-unit increase in the measure is associated with an eight percentage point increase in the likelihood of remaining abstinent (p-value = 0.01).  Likewise, having a network of close friends who are supportive of abstinence was strongly associated with increased sexual abstinence.  A one-unit increase in support for abstinence among friends is associated with a five percentage point increase in the likelihood of remaining abstinent.

Table VI.1.
Links Between Potential Mediators and Later Sexual Abstinence
Potential Mediator
(Scale Measure)
Scale Range Change in Rate of Abstinence for
One Unit Change in Potential Mediator
Views on Abstinence, Teen Sex, and Marriage
Support for abstinence 0-3 [least to most supportive] 8 0.01**
Support for teen sex (reversed) 0-3 [most to least supportive] -1 0.65
Support for marriage 0-3 [least to most supportive] -4 0.09*
Peer Influences and Relations
Friends support for abstinence 0-5 [least to most supportive] 5 0.00***
Peer pressure to have sexa 0-3 [least to most pressure] -4 0.21
Self-Concept, Refusal Skills and Communication with Parents
Self-esteem and control 0-3 [lowest to highest level] 3 0.35
Refusal skillsa 0-2 [lowest to highest skills] -3 0.57
Communication with parents 0-3 [least to most communication] 0 0.94
Perceived Consequences of Teen and non-Marital Sex  
Perceived personal consequences 0-3 [least to most consequences] 4 0.18
Perceived general consequences 0-2 [least to most consequences] 1 0.79
Pledged to abstain 0 or 1 [yes or no] -3 0.37
Sources:  The measures of potential mediators and the measure of sexual abstinence are based, respectively, on the Wave 2 and Wave 4 Surveys of Teen Activities and Attitudes (Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., 2000, 2005) administered to youth 6 to 12 months and 42 to 78 months, after enrollment in the Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Program study sample.

Note:  See Appendix E for complete information on these measures.  All estimates are adjusted based on weighted regression models.  The estimated change represents an association between the two measures and should not be interpreted as causal, since it might be explained by other, unmeasured factors.

aTeens in Control and FUPTP samples were not asked the questions used to construct these measures because of their young ages at the time of the Wave 2 survey.  As a result, these estimates are based on a model pooling data across only the two older sites.  All other estimates are based on a model pooling data across all four sites.

***p-value (of change shown) < 0.01; **p-value < 0.05; *p-value < 0.10, two-tailed test.

Of the remaining potential mediators, none is associated with sexual abstinence in the direction hypothesized in the logic model (Table VI.1).   One measure, support for marriage, has a negative association with sexual abstinence, which is inconsistent with the logic model.  The remaining measures  including self-concept, refusal skills, and communication with parents; perceived consequences of teen sex; and pledging  all bear no statistically significant association with later sexual abstinence.  Perhaps the most surprising of these findings concerns the pledge, which two previous studies (Bearman and Bruckner 2001; Rector et al. 2004) found to be associated with delayed sexual initiation but this study finds to have no statistically significant association with later sexual abstinence.

Given that support for abstinence by youth and peer support for abstinence are the only significant long-term predictors of sexual abstinence found in this study, the remainder of this chapter focuses on these two measures (defined in Table VI.2) and how they changed over time.  For findings on the other measures shown in Table VI.1, see Appendix E.

View full report


"report.pdf" (pdf, 626.39Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®