Impact of an Intervention Designed to Reduce Sexual Health Risk Behaviors of African American Adolescents: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial

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Abstract

Objectives

To replicate an evidence-based HIV risk reduction program and assess its impact on 2 behavioral outcomes-inconsistency of condom use and frequency of sex-6 months after the program.

Methods

The study was an individual-level randomized controlled trial in which we randomly assigned 850 youths (aged 14-18 years) to 1 of 2 conditions. The treatment (Becoming a Responsible Teen) is a group-level sociocognitive and skills training sexual education course; the control is a general health intervention that includes the same initial informational component as the treatment. Participants were recruited over 3 summers (2012-2014) from a summer employment program in New Orleans, Louisiana, that serves primarily African American adolescents.

Results

Six months after program exposure, we found no statistically significant difference between treatment and control group members' self-reported inconsistency of condom use or frequency of sex (P > .05).

Conclusions

Although previous evidence has indicated that this particular program can be effective, this study's findings indicate that it was not effective in this setting with this specific population. Results should provide an incentive to learn why the intervention works in some cases and what conditions are necessary for causal impacts.

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