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Journal of Adolescent Health published an RCT of Making Proud Choices! (MPC) - "one of the most popular evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention curricula being implemented nationwide." Quick take: Despite study claims of positive results, it actually found little to no impact on youth sexual behavior & health at 6 mo follow-up.
  • MPC's high school program, delivered by trained health educators, aims to provide youth with information & tools to reduce their risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), HIV, & pregnancy. It emphasizes that condoms can prevent pregnancy & STIs, and birth control can prevent pregnancy, if youth choose to have sex.

Study Design:
  • The study randomized 31 high school clusters in 4 US cities, with a combined sample of 2,138 students, to MPC vs control. Based on careful review, this was a high-quality RCT (e.g., good baseline balance, minimal attrition, appropriate analyses, MPC delivered with fidelity).

  • 6 mo after program completion, the study found positive impacts on youths' knowledge & attitudes (about pregnancy, condoms, etc). However, these effects didn't translate into changes in sexual behavior or health (including pregnancy & STI rates).

  • The impacts on sexual behavior & health are shown below. Note that only 1 of 10 impacts was statistically significant (& the 1 could easily be a chance finding due measurement of many outcomes). Also, most effect sizes are very small - as I've highlighted in yellow.

  • The authors say the positive effects on knowledge/attitudes may yet lead to long-term behavior & health impacts. Although possible, prior RCTs in the area of teen pregnancy prevention haven't found this; behavior impacts tend to be largest shortly after program completion & if anything diminish over time.

  • Unfortunately the study abstract (below) portrays the results as unambiguously positive. That's concerning because busy readers often look to the abstract for key take-aways & could easily conclude (wrongly) that MPC was found effective.

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