Reducing Sexual Risk With Practice of Periodic Secondary Abstinence

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ObjectiveTest a novel intervention to help sexually experienced girls increase abstinence behaviors and attitudes.DesignA quasi-experimental repeated measures design using qualitative and quantitative data.SettingTwo alternative public schools.ParticipantsThirty-three females whose mean age was 16 and who were 79% African American participated. Most (79%) had experienced a pregnancy.InterventionA 6 session, weekly, interactive intervention was delivered. Data were collected at baseline, last session, and at 5 and 7 month follow-ups.Main Outcome MeasuresMeasured outcomes related to abstinence included participants' reasons, behaviors, stages of change, and attitudes.ResultsThe most common reason for abstinence was not wanting to have sex. At each postintervention data collection point, most participants (greater than or equal to 74%) reported that they had purposefully avoided sex. Duration of consecutive days of abstinence increased although only significantly at 5 month follow-up. Abstinence behaviors increased with the largest change from first to last session. Stage of change advanced from preparation to action by 7 month follow-up. Attitudes toward abstinence became more favorable.ConclusionEffective sexual risk reduction interventions are critically needed to promote safety. Nurses may assist young women to decrease their sexual risks by teaching them to practice periodic abstinence.

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