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Estimating the cost-effectiveness of a classroom-based abstinence and pregnancy avoidance program targeting preadolescent sexual risk behaviors

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Previous research has suggested that school-based pregnancy prevention programs that provide sexual education and related forms of support and foster life skill development are effective in improving preadolescents' attitudes toward abstinence and contraception. However, there has been limited research on the cost-effectiveness of such programs. This study used an economic approach to estimate the short- and long-term cost-effectiveness of a school-based pregnancy prevention education program by controlling for various influential factors, including predisposing, enabling, and reinforcing factors. The results of this study indicate that school-based health education intervention improves preadolescents' attitudes toward abstinence and pregnancy avoidance through contraceptive use. The findings also indicate that the program is cost-efficient and demonstrate its net benefits based on its long-term impact. The findings demonstrate that spending US$1000 on school-based health education intervention fosters the prevention of 13.67 unintended pregnancies among preadolescents. Sexual abstinence helps society avoid the associated public welfare, socioeconomic, and medical/health-care costs of such pregnancies. The implication of this study is that these school-based health education programs should be widely implemented in high-risk neighborhoods.

Keywords: abstinence and pregnancy prevention; adolescence; cost-effectiveness; health; risky sexual behaviors of preadolescents; school-based health education program

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Health Sciences and Practice, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY, USA 2: Department of Economics and Center for Children and Childhood Studies, Rutgers University - State University of New Jersey, Camden, NJ, USA 3: Department of Educational Leadership Management and Policy, Seton Hall University, South Orange, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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