Brief Behavioral Intervention to Improve Adolescent Sexual Health: A Feasibility Study in the Emergency Department

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ObjectiveAlthough emergency department (ED) visits offer an opportunity to deliver brief behavioral interventions to improve health, provision of ED-based interventions targeting adolescent sexual health is uncommon. The objectives for this study were to evaluate the feasibility and preliminary effects of a novel sexual health service intervention for adolescents.MethodsIn this cross-sectional feasibility study, sexually active patients aged 14 to 19 years presenting to a Midwestern pediatric ED were recruited to receive an intervention to improve sexual health. The intervention, based on motivational interviewing (MI), included agenda setting, exploration of behaviors, a decisional balance exercise, tailored feedback, and provision of personalized health services (including condoms, prescription for emergency contraception, urine testing for Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrheae, and referral to the hospital-affiliated adolescent clinic). Data were collected before and after intervention administration and at a 3-month follow-up telephone interview. Surveys assessed sexual risk behaviors, satisfaction with the intervention, health care use, and demographics. Feasibility criteria were (1) subject-rated interventionist fidelity to MI principles (Likert scale 1 [strongly agree] to 4 [strongly disagree]), (2) subject satisfaction (Likert scale 1 [not at all] to 5 [very]), and (3) session duration (minutes, recorded by the interventionist). A secondary outcome was the proportion of subjects who completed at least 1 health service. Services provided at the adolescent clinic were determined by an electronic medical record review. Comparisons of responses between sex subgroups were analyzed using Χ2 test.ResultsFrom August to November 2012, 69 adolescents were approached, 66 (96%) completed the screening survey, and 24 (37%) reported previous sexual activity. Of those, 20 (83%) agreed to participate. The mean (SD) age was 16.2 (1.4) years; 60% were female. Most (78%) reported that the interventionist maintained high fidelity to MI principles and most (80%) were very satisfied with the intervention. Mean (SD) intervention length was 15.7 (2.2) minutes. Most subjects (65%) accepted 1 or more health services, including 42% who completed clinic follow-up. In the ED or the referral clinic, the following services were provided to the subjects: condoms (n = 11), emergency contraception prescription (n = 5), C. trachomatis/N. gonorrheae testing (n = 4), hormonal birth control provision (n = 2), and human immunodeficiency virus testing (n = 3). Fifteen subjects (75%) were reached for the 3-month follow-up, and condom use was maintained by 67% of those reporting sexual activity.ConclusionsThis study demonstrated the feasibility and potential utility of an MI-based service navigation intervention to connect youth with point-of-care services as well as resources for ongoing sexual health needs.

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