University of Minnesota research update: Teen pregnancy prevention program sees long-term results
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University of Minnesota-led research has found an 18-month long program aimed at reducing risk for teen pregnancy continues to increase contraceptive use thereby reducing risk for teen pregnancy at the 30-month assessment mark, one year after participants completed the program. The program, Prime Time, was also found to increase vulnerable teen girls’ likelihood of enrolling in college or technical school from 37 to 72 percent.
Study results are published “online first” before inclusion in the June 2014 issue of the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. This publication is the culmination of a series of papers assessing the effectiveness of providing one-on-one mentoring and leadership opportunities for adolescents considered at-risk for teen pregnancy.
Researchers investigated the ability of Prime Time to prevent a variety of risky health behaviors among 13-17 year old girls who met at least one risk criteria for teenage pregnancy (such as treatment for a sexually transmitted disease, aggressive and violent behavior, or disconnection from school).
The latest research findings complement study results released at the 24-month assessment, six months following program completion. Those results demonstrated the program’s short-term success in increasing dual contraceptive use, promoting more consistent use of condoms and hormonal contraception, and increases in a girl’s self-confidence to decline unwanted sex. Other assessments have additionally demonstrated Prime Time’s ability to improve stress management skills and lower the frequency of bullying peers via gossip, rumors and ostracism. The program is unique in its approach of providing positive youth development services through health clinics.
“Two and a half years after the girls were first enrolled, and one year after the program ended, we’re seeing evidence that Prime Time has changed teens’ health and educational trajectories,” said study lead author Renee Sieving, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., F.S.A.H.M., associate professor with the School of Nursing and Healthy Youth Development-Prevention Research Center at the University of Minnesota.
Not only did the program substitute many high-risk behaviors with healthier alternatives in the short-term, but the program also continues to promote healthy behaviors as participants move into early adulthood.
“It’s uncommon to see initial behavior changes carry through so powerfully over time,” said Sieving. “Prime Time is a new model of health care services that has breakthrough potential, in terms of providing preventive services that meet the needs of vulnerable youth.”
Sieving specifically calls upon major health systems and primary care clinics that serve large numbers of adolescents to provide Prime Time-modeled services to vulnerable youth at-risk for negative health outcomes like early pregnancy. A recent Institute of Medicine report concluded that greater emphasis on youth development is fundamental to improving preventive services for adolescents. Clinic staff including case managers, outreach staff, social workers and health educators – perhaps working in partnership with youth leadership organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and the YMCA – are well-equipped to provide these services. Sieving and collaborators are currently investigating the prospective cost-savings and cost-benefit of Prime Time.
Authors from the University of Minnesota, Ohio State University and North Dakota State University collaborated for this research.
Funding was provided by the National Institute of Nursing Research; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and the Bureau of Health Professions, Health Resources and Services Administration. The CDC denotes teen pregnancy as a “Winnable Battle”.