Methods: Data for this study were drawn from a multi-site intervention with five agencies located across Texas, each of which implemented an evidence-based sexual health curriculum (Be Proud! Be Responsible! or Making Proud Choices!). Youth aged 11-19 years (N=1,018) participated in the study, and attended an average of 92% of sessions. Pre- and post-intervention survey data measuring sexual health knowledge and attitudes were collected. Sexual health knowledge was measured by a 24 item scale, and attitudes related to using condoms and birth control were single item measures. Analyses included a series of t-tests to examine change from pre- to post-intervention, and regression analyses to examine predictors of change in knowledge and attitudes.
Results: Results of paired sample t-tests on knowledge and attitudes found significant increases in sexual health knowledge from pre to post-test for youth in both foster care and juvenile justice settings (p < .001). Attitudes towards birth control and condom use significantly increased from pre to post-test in juvenile justice settings (p < .001), but not in foster care settings. In multivariate analyses assessing change, being in juvenile justice (p=.037) was associated with greater increases in knowledge, though setting of the youth was not associated with greater influence on using condoms or birth control. Identifying as female (p=.031) was associated with greater increases in knowledge; identifying as heterosexual/straight was associated with greater influence condom use (p=.005); and having ever had sex (p<.001) at baseline was associated with greater program influence on condom (p<.001) and birth control use (p=.006). Though regression models predicting change in were significant, each explained relatively little variance with small R squares (.020, .027, .029).
Discussion/Implications: Results indicate that existing evidence-based sexual health education programs affect system-involved youth’s sexual health knowledge, and that setting of the youth may impact the effect on attitudes. The few significant predictors of change may be a result of the intense need for sexual health education among such marginalized groups. Future studies with a longitudinal design, and more sophisticated measures of attitudes are needed to examine whether improved knowledge and attitudes among these high-risk populations translates into reduced pregnancy and STI rates.