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Impacts of a School‐Wide, Peer‐Led Approach to Sexuality Education: A Matched Comparison Group Design
Background. Teen Prevention Education Program (PEP) is a school‐wide, peer‐led comprehensive sexuality education program currently implemented in more than 50 schools across 2 states. Many teen pregnancy prevention researchers and practitioners view peer‐led programs as a promising approach for reducing teen pregnancy and associated sexual risk behaviors. However, prior research on the effectiveness of these programs indicates mixed results.
Methods. We randomly assigned schools to implement Teen PEP immediately (intervention group) or on a delayed schedule (comparison group) and used propensity score matching to improve the comparability of the study groups. We surveyed students at baseline and about 6 months after the program ended.
Results. Teen PEP did not significantly impact rates of sexual activity or unprotected sex; however, the program led to improvements in exposure to information about sexual health topics and knowledge of preventing pregnancy and transmission of sexually transmitted infections.
Conclusions. Teen PEP succeeded in accomplishing some of its most proximal goals, increasing students' access to information and knowledge. However, we found little evidence that the program affects sexual risk‐taking within 6 months of its conclusion. Future research will examine the program's longer‐term impacts on sexual risk behaviors.