Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs. Knowledge of STD and Pregnancy Risks

04/13/2007

  • Study youth correctly identified STDs only about two-thirds of the time.  Programs increased this proportion by a modest amount.

On the final follow-up survey, youth were given a list of 13 diseases and asked whether or not each was a sexually transmitted disease; of these diseases, nine were actual STDs and four were not STDs (see Appendix C for the exact questions).  Youth in the program group identified an average of 69 percent of these diseases correctly, as STDs or not, while youth in the control group identified an average of 67 percent correct.  The difference is statistically significant (Table V.1).  Comparing the four programs on this measure, My Choice, My Future! displays the largest difference by far.  It raised the rate of STD identification by an estimated eight points, from a mean of 75 percent for the control group to a mean of 83 percent for the program group.

Table V.1.
Estimated Impacts on Identification of STDs, Overall and by Site
  Program Group
(Mean Percentage)
Control Group
(Mean Percentage)
Program-Control
Difference
(Percentage Points)
p-value
Four Programs Combined
Overall identification of STDs 69 67 2 0.00***
Identification of true STDs 75 72 2 0.01***
Identification of false STDs 57 55 2 0.10
My Choice, My Future!
Overall identification of STDs 83 75 8 0.00***
Identification of true STDs 85 77 8 0.00***
Identification of false STDs 78 70 8 0.00***
ReCapturing the Vision
Overall identification of STDs 74 72 2 0.16
Identification of true STDs 79 76 3 0.11
Identification of false STDs 64 63 1 0.70
FUPTP
Overall identification of STDs 63 65 -1 0.45
Identification of true STDs 70 70 0 0.90
Identification of false STDs 48 52 -4 0.22
Teens in Control
Overall identification of STDs 57 56 1 0.55
Identification of true STDs 64 65 0 0.85
Identification of false STDs 39 36 4 0.11
Source:  Wave 4 Survey of Teen Activities and Attitudes (Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., 2005), administered to youth 42 to 78 months after enrolling in the Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Program study sample.

Note:  All estimates are based on weighted regression models.  For details on the covariates, see Appendix Table A.1.  Sample sizes and R-square statistics are in Appendix Tables A.2 and A.3, respectively.  Program-control difference may not equal difference in percentages due to rounding.

***p-value (of program-control difference) < 0.01; **p-value < 0.05; *p-value < 0.10, two-tailed test.

Findings remain consistent when examining impacts separately for diseases that are STDs and those that are not.  Overall, program group youth correctly identified a higher percentage of diseases of both types, though only the impact on true STDs remained statistically significant (Table V.1).  This consistency suggests that programs did not simply raise the likelihood that youth believed any disease was transmitted sexually; rather, they had a beneficial long-term impact on STD identification.

  • Many study youth understood the risks of pregnancy and STDs from unprotected sex, but they often lacked an understanding of the potential health risks from STDs.  Program and control group youth had similar levels of knowledge.

On a two-item scale measuring their understanding of unprotected sex risks, youth in both the program and control groups had high scores (0.88) (Table V.2).  Program and control group youth likewise reported similar levels of knowledge on a three-item scale measuring their understanding of potential health risks of STDs.  However, their respective mean values on this scale were relatively low, 0.52 and 0.51, and corresponded to a typical youth answering only about half the items of the scale correctly.  (See Appendix C for a list of the questions and coding of responses for these scales).

Table V.2.
Estimated Impacts on Knowledge of Pregnancy and STD Risks, Overall and by Site
  Program Group
(Scale Mean)
Control Group
(Scale Mean)
Program-Control
Difference
p-value
Four Programs Combined
Knowledge of unprotected sex risks 0.88 0.88 0.00 0.85
Knowledge of STD consequences 0.52 0.51 0.02 0.20
My Choice, My Future!
Knowledge of unprotected sex risks 0.98 0.94 0.03 0.04**
Knowledge of STD consequences 0.60 0.55 0.05 0.05*
ReCapturing the Vision
Knowledge of unprotected sex risks 0.92 0.95 -0.03 0.09*
Knowledge of STD consequences 0.56 0.56 0.00 0.90
FUPTP
Knowledge of unprotected sex risks 0.88 0.86 0.02 0.47
Knowledge of STD consequences 0.52 0.47 0.05 0.08*
Teens in Control
Knowledge of unprotected sex risks 0.74 0.75 -0.01 0.64
Knowledge of STD consequences 0.40 0.44 -0.04 0.07*
Source:  Wave 4 Survey of Teen Activities and Attitudes (Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., 2005), administered to youth 42 to 78 months after enrolling in the Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Program study sample.

Note:  All estimates are based on weighted regression models.  For details on the covariates, see Appendix Table A.1.  Sample sizes and R-square statistics are in Appendix Tables A.2 and A.3, respectively.  Program-control difference may not equal difference in means due to rounding.

***p-value (of program-control difference) < 0.01; **p-value < 0.05; *p-value < 0.10, two-tailed test.

Despite the lack of an impact on these scales across the four programs, one program, My Choice, My Future!, shows consistent evidence of raising youths knowledge.  On both scales shown in Table V.2, the mean among program group youth in My Choice, My Future! was significantly higher than among their control group counterparts, reflecting a gain in knowledge attributable to the program.  Other programs also displayed some statistically significant differences between program and control group youth on the two scales, but these differences are less consistent.  For example, on the measure of knowledge of STD consequences, program group youth in FUPTP reported a mean score that is five points higher than their control group counterparts, a difference that is statistically significant.  However, on the measure of unprotected sex risks, the difference in mean scores is only two points and not statistically significant.  Teens in Control displays a similar pattern between these two scales, except that the differences between the program and control groups are in the opposite (negative) direction.

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