Nav: Home

Interventions aimed at parents and kids boost safe sex practices

July 29, 2019

Many parents are reluctant to talk with their kids about sex. But a new study shows that interventions involving parents and children lead to safer sexual practices - and do not make adolescents more likely to engage in sexual activity.

"People have been studying parent-based sexual health interventions for decades, and we wanted to know how effective they are; as well as whether there are specific features of these interventions that make them more effective," says Laura Widman, first author of a paper on the work and an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University.

Parent-based interventions are programs aimed at working with parents, and often their children, to address issues such as communicating about sex, providing sexual health information, and encouraging safer sex behavior.

The new study was a meta-analysis of 31 randomized controlled trials, involving 12,464 adolescents between the ages of 9 and 18, with a mean age of just over 12 years. Twenty-nine of the studies were longitudinal, 16 of which had follow-up periods of more than a year.

One of the strongest effects the meta-analysis identified was an increase in condom use by adolescents whose parents took part in an intervention, compared to adolescents whose parents didn't participate in an intervention. And the study found that there were several features that increased the size of that effect.

Specifically: interventions that focused on adolescents aged 14 or younger had a stronger effect than interventions aimed at older adolescents; interventions that were targeted to Black or Hispanic youth had a stronger effect on those youth than interventions that were not culturally specific; interventions that targeted parents and adolescents equally, rather than focusing primarily on either audience, were more effective; and programs that lasted for 10 hours or more were more effective than shorter interventions.

"These are variables that make sense intuitively: reaching kids when they're younger and, often, more willing to listen; involving both parents and adolescents; spending more time on the subject matter - none of those are particularly surprising," Widman says. "However, it's good to see that the data bears this out."

Another interesting finding was that interventions did not affect the age at which adolescents became sexually active.

"In other words, the kids who were taught about sexual health did not become sexually active any earlier than kids who were not part of the interventions - but kids who were part of the interventions were more likely to use condoms when they did become sexually active," Widman says.

"This highlights the value of parent-based interventions, and makes clear that certain features are especially valuable when developing interventions," says Reina Evans, a Ph.D. student at NC State and co-author of the study.

The researchers also noted some areas that may be worth exploring for future intervention research.

"For example, we found only one intervention that targeted fathers, and it worked very well," Widman says. "Similarly, there was only one intervention aimed specifically at parents of sons, which also worked very well. This suggests that it may be worthwhile to pursue broader efforts to assess the effectiveness of gender-specific interventions for parents and adolescents.

"What's more, we found that there is a dearth of information on the effectiveness of online interventions. That's definitely an area ripe for future study."
-end-
The paper, "Parent-based interventions to improve adolescent sexual health: A meta-analysis," appears in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. The paper was co-authored by Hannah Javidi, a Ph.D. student at NC State; and Sophia Choukas-Bradley, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.

The work was done with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under contract HHSP23320095626WC task order HHSP23337007T.

North Carolina State University

Related Science Articles:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.
Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.
Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.
World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.
PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.
More Science News and Science Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Debbie Millman: Designing Our Lives
From prehistoric cave art to today's social media feeds, to design is to be human. This hour, designer Debbie Millman guides us through a world made and remade–and helps us design our own paths.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Insomnia Line
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what'd Radiolab decide to do?  Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week's experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.   This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.