1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN

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A recent study of African American and Latina girls, among whom there is an especially high rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), showed that role playing and practice applying condoms had a striking effect: the girls who received these interventions contracted fewer STDs within 12 months than did peers who had no such practice.


Nearly 700 sexually active African American and Latina (mostly Puerto Rican) girls, ages 12 to 19 years, were randomized into three groups. One group received information on STDs and practiced applying condoms and role played in negotiating their use. Another group received information on STDs but no practice or role playing. A control group received general health information unrelated to sexual activity. Each subject participated in a 250-minute group session led by a trained facilitator (with about five girls in each session).

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At the 12-month follow-up, the girls in the practice-and-role-playing group reported fewer incidents of unprotected intercourse, which was the primary outcome studied. Results were also favorable in that group when secondary sexual-behavior outcomes were considered; for example, the rate of unprotected sex while intoxicated was significantly lower among the girls who practiced the skills than among girls in either of the other groups. Of greater significance, only 10.5% of girls in the practice-and-role-playing group had infection with Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, or Trichomonas vaginalis at 12 months, while 18.2% in the control group did.


Although the researchers acknowledge that a limitation of the study was its reliance on self-reporting, their findings show that teaching such skills and helping girls to practice them can be a viable prevention strategy with this at-risk group. -Fran Mennick, BSN, RN, and Joy Jacobson, managing editor


Jemmott JB III, et al. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2005;159(5):440-9.