Program

Dec 20, 2007

OVERVIEW

The FOCUS program is a cognitive-behavioral intervention
designed to prevent sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies
among young women. In a random assignment study, female Marine platoons
assigned to receive the FOCUS curriculum were compared with platoons assigned
to a control intervention. During a one-year follow-up period, young
women assigned to the FOCUS group were significantly less likely than members of
the control group to have an unintended pregnancy or to acquire a sexually
transmitted infection. Members of the FOCUS group were not significantly
more likely to be consistent condom users, however. The program was
particularly successful with young women who were sexually inexperienced at
baseline. Within this sub-group, members of the FOCUS group were less
likely to have multiple sexual partners and had fewer casual partners.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Young women (ages 17+)

The eight-hour FOCUS curriculum consists of four modules
that provide participants with information on STIs
and unintended pregnancy, motivate participants to avoid these outcomes, and
equip participants with the behavioral skills necessary to engage in preventive
behaviors. Communication skills and condom use skills are emphasized.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Boyer, C.B., Shafer, M., Shaffer, R.A.,
Brodine, S.K., Pollack, L.M., Betsinger,
K., Chang, Y.J., Kraft, H.S., & Schachter, J.
(2005).Evaluation of a cognitive-behavioral,
group, randomized controlled intervention trial to prevent sexually transmitted
infections and unintended pregnancies in young women. Preventive
Medicine, 40
, 420-431.

Evaluated population: A total of 2,157 female Marine recruits
served as the study sample for this investigation. Recruits were at least
17 years old. 56 percent were white; 20 percent were Latina; 16 percent were African American; 3 percent were
Asian American; 3 percent were Native American; and 3 percent were of another
ethnicity. At baseline, 85 percent reported having already had sexual
intercourse.

Approach: Subjects were randomly assigned, by
platoon, to either the treatment group or the control group. Platoons
assigned to the treatment group took part in the FOCUS program. Platoons
assigned to the control group took part in an eight-hour intervention to
prevent physical training injuries and cancer. Each intervention session
was facilitated by two trained civilian research assistants. FOCUS was
delivered to groups of 20-25 women at a time. The control intervention
was delivered to full platoons (50-75 women).

Subjects completed a baseline questionnaire and were
screened for STIs before the interventions
began. Subjects completed follow-up questionnaires and were re-screened
one month after completing recruit training and again, approximately one year
later.

Results: The proportion of women who had an
unintended pregnancy or acquired an STI during the follow-up period was higher
in the control group than in the FOCUS group. This difference was not
significant for either outcome by itself; however, when STIs
and unintended pregnancies were combined into a single outcome variable, the
difference was statistically significant (odds ratio = 1.41).

During the follow-up period, there was no significant
difference between the FOCUS group and the control group on consistency of
condom use. Further, there was no significant difference between groups
on number of sexual partners or number of casual partners among subjects who were
sexually experienced at baseline. Among subjects who were sexually
inexperienced at baseline, however, members of the FOCUS group had
significantly fewer sexual partners and fewer casual partners than did members
of the control group.

(Analyses took into account the fact that randomization
occurred at the group level.)

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Further information and curriculum materials available
at: 
http://www.socio.com/srch/summary/pasha/full/passt22.htm

References:

Boyer, C.B., Shafer, M., Shaffer, R.A., Brodine, S.K., Pollack, L.M., Betsinger,
K., Chang, Y.J., Kraft, H.S., & Schachter, J.
(2005).Evaluation of a cognitive-behavioral,
group, randomized controlled intervention trial to prevent sexually transmitted
infections and unintended pregnancies in young women. Preventive
Medicine, 40
, 420-431.

KEYWORDS: Gender
Specific (Females Only), Reproductive Health, Teen Pregnancy, STD/STI/HIV,
Risky Sex, Skills Training, Young Adults, Youth, Young Adulthood (17-24), White
or Caucasian, Black or African American, Asian American, Native American or
American Indian, Contraception.

Program information last updated on
12/20/07.

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