Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Onset of sexual activity in tweens delayed by theory-based abstinence-only program

Date:
February 2, 2010
Source:
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Summary:
A new study weighs in on the controversy over sex education, finding that an abstinence-only intervention for pre-teens was more successful in delaying the onset of sexual activity than a health-promotion control intervention. After two years, one-third of the abstinence-only group reported having sex, compared to one-half of the control group.

A new study weighs in on the controversy over sex education, finding that an abstinence-only intervention for pre-teens was more successful in delaying the onset of sexual activity than a health-promotion control intervention. After two years, one-third of the abstinence-only group reported having sex, compared to one-half of the control group. The study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania appears in the February 1 edition of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Related Articles


While abstinence-only intervention did not eliminate sexual activity all together, this is the first randomized controlled study to demonstrate that an abstinence-only intervention reduced the percentage of adolescents who reported any sexual intercourse for a long period, in this case two years, following the intervention.

"It is extremely important to find an effective intervention that delays sexual activity; the younger someone is when they have sex for the first time, the less likely they are to use condoms," said lead author John B. Jemmott III, PhD, professor of Communication in Psychiatry and of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine and Annenberg School for Communication. "Abstinence-only interventions may have an important role in delaying sexual activity until a time later in life when the adolescent is more prepared to handle to consequences of sex. This can reduce undesirable consequences of sex, including pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections like HIV/AIDS."

There was a 33 percent reduction in self-reported sexual intercourse from the abstinence-only group, compared to the control group, by the end of the study. Of the students who reported that they were sexually active during the study, there were fewer reports of recent sexual activity from the abstinence-only intervention participants (20.6 percent) compared to the control participants (29.0 percent).

The authors cautioned that before any policy issues are discussed, more research is needed to determine the efficacy of abstinence-only education for different populations, including replication of a study like this in young African Americans. "Policy should not be based on just one study, but an accumulation of empirical findings from several well-designed, well-executed studies," said Dr. Jemmott.

A total of 662 African American students in grades 6 and 7 participated in this randomized controlled trial, which was held on Saturdays in classrooms at four public schools participating in the study. The students were randomly assigned to an 8-hour abstinence-only intervention, an 8-hour safer sex-only intervention, an 8- or 12-hour combined abstinence and safer-sex intervention, or an 8-hour health-promotion control group. Participants in the comprehensive intervention had reduced reports of multiple sexual partners compared with the control group (8.8 percent vs. 14.1 percent).

Researchers determined that none of the interventions had significant effects on consistent condom use or unprotected sex. For those who lost their virginity during the two year study, there was no difference in consistent condom use between the abstinence-only intervention and the control group.

The abstinence-only intervention was based on principles shown to be effective in reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS, and did not use a moralistic tone or portray sex in a negative light. It encouraged abstinence as a way to eliminate the risk of pregnancy and STIs. During the 8-hour abstinence-only session, study facilitators used brief and interactive small group activities to build the pre-teens' knowledge of HIV and STIs, bolster beliefs supporting practicing abstinence, and improve skills and confidence to help negotiate abstinence and resist pressure to have sex.

The researchers noted that, in the United States, the consequences of early sexual involvement -- including HIV, other STIs, and unintended pregnancies -- are especially great among African American adolescents. An effective abstinence-only intervention could stave off unwanted consequences until adolescents mature and are prepared to handle the consequences of sex.

Other study authors included Loretta S. Jemmott, PhD, RN, professor of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Geoffrey T. Fong, PhD, of the University of Waterloo and Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. John B. Jemmott, III; Loretta S. Jemmott; Geoffrey T. Fong. Efficacy of a Theory-Based Abstinence-Only Intervention Over 24 Months: A Randomized Controlled Trial With Young Adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2010; 164 (2): 152-159 [link]
  2. Frederick P. Rivara; Alain Joffe. Research, Policy, and Adolescent Sexual Behavior. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2010; 164 (2): 200 [link]

Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Onset of sexual activity in tweens delayed by theory-based abstinence-only program." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100201171637.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. (2010, February 2). Onset of sexual activity in tweens delayed by theory-based abstinence-only program. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100201171637.htm
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Onset of sexual activity in tweens delayed by theory-based abstinence-only program." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100201171637.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Mistakes Should Serve a Lesson Says WHO

Ebola Mistakes Should Serve a Lesson Says WHO

AFP (Jan. 25, 2015) The World Health Organization&apos;s chief on Sunday admitted the UN agency had been caught napping on Ebola, saying it should serve a lesson to avoid similar mistakes in future. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disneyland Measles Outbreak Spreads To 5 States

Disneyland Measles Outbreak Spreads To 5 States

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) Much of the Disneyland measles outbreak is being blamed on the anti-vaccination movement. The CDC encourages just about everyone get immunized. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Growing Measles Outbreak Worries Calif. Parents

Growing Measles Outbreak Worries Calif. Parents

AP (Jan. 23, 2015) Public health officials are rushing to contain a measles outbreak that has sickened 70 people across 6 states and Mexico. The AP&apos;s Raquel Maria Dillon has more. (Jan. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins