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An Abstinence Program's Impact on Cognitive Mediators and Sexual Initiation

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Objectives : To evaluate the impact of an abstinence education program on sexual intercourse initiation and on possible cognitive mediators of sexual initiation for virgin seventh graders in suburban Virginia.

Methods : Measures of sexual behavior and 6 mediating variables were compared at 3 time periods for program participants and a matched comparison group (n=550), controlling for pretest differences.

Results : At posttest, program students scored significantly better on 4 of the 6 mediators. After one year, program students had a substantially lower risk of sexual initiation than did comparison students (RR=.457, P=.008).

Conclusion : The program achieved a significant reduction in teen sexual initiation, and the role of the cognitive mediators was supported.

Keywords: STDs; abstinence; program evaluation; sex education; teen pregnancy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1 Director, Institute for Research and Evaluation, Salt Lake City, UT.

Publication date: January 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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