Program

May 24, 2007

OVERVIEW

The Managing Pressures Before
Marriage program (MPM) was enhanced to include five homework assignments
designed to increase parent-child communication about sex. 8th
grade students were randomly assigned to receive only the MPM curriculum or the
MPM curriculum and homework assignments. Follow-up surveys administered
immediately after program completion revealed that the addition of homework assignments
to the curriculum had no significant impact on students’ sexual knowledge,
attitudes, or behaviors. However, the addition of homework assignments
did positively impact parent-child communication. Compared with students
assigned to the MPM-only condition, students assigned to the MPM-enhanced
condition reported having engaged in significantly more recent communication
with their parents about sex and about the MPM course. MPM-enhanced
students also reported significantly greater self-efficacy and significantly
lower intent to have sex than did MPM-only students.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Middle school students

Managing Pressures Before Marriage
(MPM) is a modified version of the Postponing Sexual Involvement (PSI)
curriculum. Like PSI, MPM consists of five hour-long lessons that address
the risks of early sexual involvement. The curriculum discusses social
and media pressures to become sexually active and teaches students methods for
handling these pressures. Classroom activities include brainstorming,
critical analysis, role-playing, skills training, and skills rehearsal.
The primary difference between MPM and PSI is that MPM specifies that
abstinence until marriage is the expected standard, whereas PSI encourages
postponing sexual involvement, but for an unspecified amount of time.

The MPM curriculum can be enhanced by the addition of
homework assignments that require parental participation. For this study,
five homework assignments were created to supplement the MPM curriculum.
These assignments were designed to facilitate parent-child communications about
sex and sexuality. The assignments included activities such as discussing
reasons to have sex or not to have sex, analyzing the media for messages about
sex, and identifying pressure situations and role-playing ways to handle
them. The assignments also provided parents with opportunities to share
with their child their own views on sex and abstinence.

EVAULATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Blake, S.M., Simkin, L., Ledsky, R., Perkinds, C., &
Calabrese, J.M. (2001).Effects of a Parent-Child
Communications Intervention on Young Adolescents’ Risk for Early Onset of
Sexual Intercourse. Family Planning Perspectives, 33(2), 52-61.

Evaluated population: In 1998, three middle schools
in the Rochester, New York area participated in this
study. 351 students from 19 8th grade health classes at these
schools constituted the study sample. The sample was primarily suburban and 85% of these students were white.

Approach: The 19 health classes were randomly
assigned to receive either the traditional MPM curriculum (n = 8) or the
enhanced MPM curriculum (n = 11). All students received the MPM
curriculum in five hour-long weekly sessions. Sessions were led by pairs
of high school students who had received 30 hours of training in the MPM
curriculum. Students in the MPM-enhanced condition received homework
assignments to complete with their parents and spent some of their MPM class
time discussing those assignments.

Students completed baseline surveys a week before the MPM
intervention commenced and completed post-intervention surveys within one week
of the program’s conclusion. These surveys
assessed sexual knowledge, beliefs, intentions, attitudes, opportunities, and
behaviors. The data analysis took account of the fact that random
assignment occurred at the level of the classroom, while the data were from
individuals.

Results: 81% of students assigned to the MPM-enhanced
condition completed at least one homework assignment and 51% completed at least
three assignments. Homework completion decreased over time, with 65% of
students completing the first assignment, but only 38% handing in a completed
assignment at the final session. Each assignment consisted of multiple
activities, for a total of 18 possible activities to complete. 54% of
students completed fewer than four of these activities. Those students
who did not complete their homework were more likely to be male, non-white, and
sexually active.

Analyses of post-intervention data found that students
assigned to the MPM-enhanced condition did not differ significantly from
students assigned to the MPM-only condition on measures of sexual knowledge or
attitudes. Students in the MPM-enhanced treatment group did express
significantly greater self-efficacy for refusing and avoiding substance use and
sexual behavior, however. They also reported less intent to have sex
before completing high school.

MPM-enhanced students and MPM-only students expressed similar
levels of comfort with communicating with their parents about sexual issues,
but MPM-enhanced students had engaged in significantly more communication with
their parents about sex and about the MPM course.

MPM-enhanced students did not differ significantly from
MPM-only students on reported exposure to sexual situations, instances of
refusal in sexual situations, lifetime intercourse, or recent
intercourse. MPM-enhanced students were less likely to have drunk alcohol
recently or ever than were MPM-only students, but this difference existed at
baseline.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Blake, S.M., Simkin, L., Ledsky, R., Perkinds, C., &
Calabrese, J.M. (2001).Effects of a Parent-Child
Communications Intervention on Young Adolescents’ Risk for Early Onset of
Sexual Intercourse. Family Planning Perspectives, 33(2), 52-61.

KEYWORDS: Adolescents (12-17), Middle School, School-based,
STD/HIV/AIDS, Sexual Activity, Parent or Family Component,
Skills Training, Abstinence Education, Suburban, Caucasian or White, Behavioral Problems, Substance Use, Alcohol Use.

Program information last updated on
5/24/07.

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