In the Journals

Birth control use rose in adolescent girls after intervention

Teenage girls who took part in a youth development and intervention aimed at reducing pregnancy risk in high-risk adolescents reported more consistent use of condoms, oral contraception or both, according to recent study findings published in JAMA Pediatrics.

The randomized controlled trial followed 253 sexually active 13- to 17-year-old girls for sexual risk behaviors and outcomes with a 24-month follow-up survey after the conclusion of the Prime Time youth development intervention. Almost all (93.3%) of the girls completed the 24-month survey.

Prime Time is an intervention for girls at high risk for pregnancy that is designed for primary care clinics; the primary focus is on promoting change in selected psychosocial attributes linked to sexual risk behaviors and other behavioral outcomes, according to researchers.

At the end of the 18-month intervention, there were higher levels of enrollment in postsecondary education and lower levels of relations aggression among the intervention group, as well as lower levels of violence victimization among intervention participants with strong family connections.

Researchers found that intervention participants reported more consistent condom use with their most recent partner than controls (adjusted means for intervention vs. control, 1.53 vs. 0.93 months). Intervention participants also reported more consistent hormonal use (3.29 vs. 2.34 months) and more consistent dual-method use (0.65 vs. 0.42 months).

At the 24-month follow-up, researchers found that the intervention groups reported improvements in family connectedness and self-efficacy to refuse unwanted sex, and reductions in the perceived importance of having sex.

The United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and childbearing; each year more than 750,000 adolescents become pregnant, accounting for more than 400,000 births.

“Findings suggest that health services groups in a youth development framework can lead to long-term reductions in sexual risk among vulnerable youth,” Renee R. Sieving, RN, PhD, FSAHM, and colleagues said. “Together with previous findings demonstrating reductions in sexual risk behaviors, relational aggression and violence victimization among Prime Time participants, results from this study suggest that involvement in a youth development intervention that combines individualized case management and youth leadership components hold great promise for preventing multiple risk behaviors among youth most vulnerable to poor health outcomes, including early pregnancy.”

Disclosure: Sieving reports being the principal investigator for the Prime Time study. The other researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.