Apr 23, 2007


Herceg-Baron and colleagues
conducted a random assignment evaluation of two support programs for teenage
females attaining contraceptives at family planning clinics. These
programs were designed to help teenage females practice contraception
effectively and thereby reduce the risk of pregnancy. A family support
program involved counseling sessions for teenage females and their
parents. A periodic support program involved clinic staff making phone
calls to the teenage females. It was difficult to get females involved in
the family support program, and it was even more difficult to get their parents
involved. Very few females assigned to this program actually made use of
the support available to them.

Neither program was effective in increasing regular
contraceptive use or in decreasing pregnancy rates. Females assigned to
support programs were no more likely to regularly use contraceptives and no
less likely to get pregnant than were females who received only regular clinic


Target population: Teenage females making use of
family planning clinics

The family support program consisted of a series of six
weekly counseling sessions for participants to attend with an adult family
member (or “surrogate family member”) who could influence and support the
participant in her contraceptive practice and sexual decision-making.
Each session lasted about 50 minutes. Participants unable or unwilling to
have an adult attend sessions with them could receive individualized counseling
that focused on familial communication.

The periodic support program consisted of two to six phone
calls between participants and clinic staff during the four to six weeks
following the participant’s initial visit to the
clinic. During these calls, clinic staff monitored each participant’s adjustment to the contraceptive method she received
at the clinic. All participants were called one week after their initial
visit and received subsequent calls when appropriate, given the contraceptive
method selected and individual participant needs.


Herceg-Baron, R., Furstenberg F.F. Jr., Shea, J., & Harris, K.M.(1986).Supporting Teenagers’ Use of
Contraceptives: A Comparison of Clinic Services. Family Planning
Perspectives, 18(2)
, 61-66.

Evaluated population: In 1980, nine family planning
clinics from the Philadelphia
area were selected to take part in this study. Study participants were
recruited among first-time teenage female visitors to these clinics. 469
females between the ages of 12 and 17 were randomly assigned to study groups,
and 417 (89%) agreed to participate. Approximately one-half of the study
participants were black; the other half were white. Just over one-half of
the study participants lived with both of their parents.

Approach: At each clinic site, females were randomly
assigned to the family support condition, the periodic support condition,
control group A, or control group B. Females assigned to the control
groups received no services other than those routinely offered by their

Females assigned to the treatment conditions and control
group A were interviewed during their initial clinic visit on their birth
control usage, pregnancy experience, and family communication about sex and
birth control. They were again interviewed after six months and after 15
months. Females assigned to control group B were only interviewed after
15 months. 86% of the females who agreed to participate in the study
remained in the study after 15 months.

Results: Only 36% of the females who agreed to take
part in the family support condition actually attended any of their counseling
sessions. Those females who did participate attended an average of 2.3
sessions each. Only eight of these participating females came to the
sessions with another person, and only two brought a parent, however. 84%
of the females who agreed to participate in the periodic support condition were
successfully contacted at least once, and each of these females received an
average of 2.6 calls.

The proportion of females who felt comfortable discussing
sexual matters with their mothers did not change significantly during the study
period for any of the study groups. Not even the subset of females in the
family support condition who actually attended their counseling sessions
demonstrated significant improvement on this measure.

Previous studies have indicated that regular family planning
clinic attendance is linked with consistent use of contraceptives, so the
researchers sought to determine whether females in the treatment conditions
visited the clinic with any greater frequency than did females in the control
groups. No significant differences emerged between groups on this
measure, however. Researchers speculated that females in the treatment
groups might have perceived their treatment services as substitutes for, rather
than complements to, actual clinic visits.

Females assigned to the treatment conditions were no more
likely to use their birth control regularly than were females assigned to the
control conditions. Further, treatment females were no less likely to get
pregnant than were control females.


Program materials are not available for purchase.


Herceg-Baron, R., Furstenberg F.F. Jr., Shea, J., & Harris, K.M.
(1986).Supporting Teenagers’ Use of Contraceptives:
A Comparison of Clinic Services. Family Planning Perspectives, 18(2),

KEYWORDS: Gender-specific (Female Only), Adolescence (12-17),
Youth, Clinic-based, Family Therapy, Reproductive Health, Teen Pregnancy, Contraception,
Risky Sex, Counseling/Therapy, Urban, Parent or Family Component.

Program information last updated on