1. Potera, Carol


New research shows abstinence-only programs are less effective.


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Heterosexual teens who receive comprehensive sex education are about half as likely to report pregnancy as teens who receive abstinence-only or no sex education, according to University of Washington researchers.


Kohler and colleagues examined the responses of 1,719 teens, ages 15 to 19, who participated in the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. About two-thirds of teens received comprehensive sex education, a quarter had abstinence-only education, and 9% reported no sex education. Teens who received comprehensive sex education were 60% less likely to report becoming pregnant or impregnating someone than teens with no sex education, and they were 50% less likely to report pregnancies than teens with abstinence-only education. With no sex education used as the reference point, neither abstinence- only nor comprehensive sex education reduced the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases.


Results failed to show a significant difference between the groups in likelihood of having sexual intercourse. However, teens with comprehensive sex education were slightly less likely to report having had sexual intercourse.


The results suggest that "formal comprehensive sex education programs reduce the risk for teen pregnancy," the authors write, "without increasing the likelihood that adolescents will engage in sexual activity, and confirm results from randomized controlled trials that abstinence-only programs have a minimal effect on sexual risk behavior." In 2005 the U.S. government spent $167 million funding abstinence-only education programs, and $204 million is proposed for abstinence-only classes this year. This study suggests that U.S. government funds might be better spent on comprehensive sex education.

Figure. School nurse... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. School nurse June DeLaRosa presents a lesson on birth control and sexually transmitted diseases in Yakima, Washington, the Associated Press reports.


A computerized smoking-cessation program helped 23% of participating teens quit, according to a study in the January-February issue of Pediatric Nursing. Based on the American Lung Association's Not on Tobacco program, the Computerized Adolescent Smoking Cessation Program (CASCP) uses video and audio clips and interactive activities aimed at teenagers, who work through four 30-minute sessions independently at school. A total of 121 teenage smokers were included in the study; 61 completed the CASCP and were evaluated one month later. Together the teens smoked fewer cigarettes, held more negative views of cigarettes, were more likely to contemplate quitting, and made more attempts to quit than the 60 teen smokers in the control group who didn't use the CASCP. (Information on the CASCP appears in the February issue of the Journal of School Nursing. The authors suggest that nurses involved with adolescents "become active in smoking-cessation efforts," and that school nurses push for smoking-cessation programs similar to the CASCP as part of their schools' curricula, "possibly incorporating [them] into mandatory health classes.")


Carol Potera


Kohler PK, et al. J Adolesc Health 2008;42(4):344-51.