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Interventions intended to reduce pregnancy-related outcomes among adolescents

Additional Info

  • Authors: Lauren S. Scher, Rebecca A. Maynard, Matthew Stagner
  • Published date: 2006-12-19
  • Coordinating group(s): Social Welfare
  • Type of document: Review, Plain language summary
  • See the full review: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.4073/csr.2006.12
  • Records available in: English, Spanish
  • English:

    PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY

    Teen pregnancy prevention programs are mostly ineffective – multi-component programs may work

    Teenagers who become pregnant, especially at a young age, face both immediate and long run negative consequences. Teen pregnancy prevention programs aim to reduce teenage pregnancy by promoting abstinence and using contraception. Evaluations show most programs evaluated fail to achieve these goals. However, there are reasons to continue evaluating pregnancy prevention programs as they evolve and the social context changes.

    What is the aim of this review?

    This Campbell systematic review examines the effectiveness of teenage pregnancy prevention programs in promoting abstinence, encouraging the use of contraception and reducing the likelihood of pregnancy among teens. The review summarise findings from 31 studies conducted in the United States or in developed countries with higher than average rates of unplanned teen pregnancy, such as Canada, England, New Zealand, and Australia.

    What did the review study?

    High rates of sexual activity, pregnancy and teen births, particularly in the United States, has led to a wide range of teenage pregnancy prevention initiatives, some emphasizing contraceptive use and others emphasizing abstinence as the primary means of reducing teen pregnancy rates.

    This review examines the effectiveness of teenage pregnancy prevention programs in lowering sexual activity rates, encouraging the use of contraception, and reducing pregnancy among teens.

    What studies are included?

    The review includes randomized controlled trials of teenage pregnancy prevention programs. Included studies focused on programs that primarily served youth between 11 and 18 years old. These programs included: one-time consultations, sex-education programs with an abstinence focus, sex-education programs with a contraception component, and multi-component youth development programs.

    The review includes 31 studies published prior to 2006, with include an aggregate sample size of over 37,000.

    What are the main results in this review?

    Taken together, the findings for each of the first three types of interventions- one-time consultations, sex education programs focused on contraception, and sex education programs focused on promoting abstinence- show no evidence of having reduced sexual activity or pregnancy rates among participating youth. The most promising results are for multi-component youth development programs, which resulted in modest reductions (six percentage points) in pregnancy rates among participants as compared with their control group counterparts. The impacts were larger for females than males.

    What do the findings in this review mean?

    When this review of randomized controlled trials was conducted, most of the programs evaluated were not achieving their intended goals of reducing pregnancy rates.

    However, these results should not be interpreted as evidence to eliminate prevention efforts, for several reasons: (1) the studied programs may not be typical; (2) the social context has changed quite substantially in the 10 years since this review was published; and (3) teen pregnancy remains as a problem warranting intervention. There is value in building on these findings when designing interventions and assessing the effectiveness of adopted strategies.

    How up-to-date is this review?

    The review authors searched for studies published until April 2006. This Campbell Systematic Review was published in October 2006.

  • Spanish:

    Click on 'Download PDF' on the right to view the plain language summary in Spanish.

Select language:

PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY

Teen pregnancy prevention programs are mostly ineffective – multi-component programs may work

Teenagers who become pregnant, especially at a young age, face both immediate and long run negative consequences. Teen pregnancy prevention programs aim to reduce teenage pregnancy by promoting abstinence and using contraception. Evaluations show most programs evaluated fail to achieve these goals. However, there are reasons to continue evaluating pregnancy prevention programs as they evolve and the social context changes.

What is the aim of this review?

This Campbell systematic review examines the effectiveness of teenage pregnancy prevention programs in promoting abstinence, encouraging the use of contraception and reducing the likelihood of pregnancy among teens. The review summarise findings from 31 studies conducted in the United States or in developed countries with higher than average rates of unplanned teen pregnancy, such as Canada, England, New Zealand, and Australia.

What did the review study?

High rates of sexual activity, pregnancy and teen births, particularly in the United States, has led to a wide range of teenage pregnancy prevention initiatives, some emphasizing contraceptive use and others emphasizing abstinence as the primary means of reducing teen pregnancy rates.

This review examines the effectiveness of teenage pregnancy prevention programs in lowering sexual activity rates, encouraging the use of contraception, and reducing pregnancy among teens.

What studies are included?

The review includes randomized controlled trials of teenage pregnancy prevention programs. Included studies focused on programs that primarily served youth between 11 and 18 years old. These programs included: one-time consultations, sex-education programs with an abstinence focus, sex-education programs with a contraception component, and multi-component youth development programs.

The review includes 31 studies published prior to 2006, with include an aggregate sample size of over 37,000.

What are the main results in this review?

Taken together, the findings for each of the first three types of interventions- one-time consultations, sex education programs focused on contraception, and sex education programs focused on promoting abstinence- show no evidence of having reduced sexual activity or pregnancy rates among participating youth. The most promising results are for multi-component youth development programs, which resulted in modest reductions (six percentage points) in pregnancy rates among participants as compared with their control group counterparts. The impacts were larger for females than males.

What do the findings in this review mean?

When this review of randomized controlled trials was conducted, most of the programs evaluated were not achieving their intended goals of reducing pregnancy rates.

However, these results should not be interpreted as evidence to eliminate prevention efforts, for several reasons: (1) the studied programs may not be typical; (2) the social context has changed quite substantially in the 10 years since this review was published; and (3) teen pregnancy remains as a problem warranting intervention. There is value in building on these findings when designing interventions and assessing the effectiveness of adopted strategies.

How up-to-date is this review?

The review authors searched for studies published until April 2006. This Campbell Systematic Review was published in October 2006.

See the full review

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