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Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2015 Mar;47(1):37-50. doi: 10.1363/47e2415. Epub 2015 Jan 30.

Parent-based adolescent sexual health interventions and effect on communication outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analyses.

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Department of Nursing Systems, University of Texas School of Nursing, Houston.



Parent-based adolescent sexual health interventions aim to reduce sexual risk behaviors by bolstering parental protective behaviors. Few studies of theory use, methods, applications, delivery and outcomes of parent-based interventions have been conducted.


A systematic search of databases for the period 1998-2013 identified 28 published trials of U.S. parent-based interventions to examine theory use, setting, reach, delivery mode, dose and effects on parent-child communication. Established coding schemes were used to assess use of theory and describe methods employed to achieve behavioral change; intervention effects were explored in meta-analyses.


Most interventions were conducted with minority parents in group sessions or via self-paced activities; interventions averaged seven hours, and most used theory extensively. Meta-analyses found improvements in sexual health communication: Analysis of 11 controlled trials indicated a medium effect on increasing communication (Cohen's d, 0.5), and analysis of nine trials found a large effect on increasing parental comfort with communication (0.7); effects were positive regardless of delivery mode or intervention dose. Intervention participants were 68% more likely than controls to report increased communication and 75% more likely to report increased comfort.


These findings point to gaps in the range of programs examined in published trials-for example, interventions for parents of sexual minority youth, programs for custodial grandparents and faith-based services. Yet they provide support for the effectiveness of parent-based interventions in improving communication. Innovative delivery approaches could extend programs' reach, and further research on sexual health outcomes would facilitate the meta-analysis of intervention effectiveness in improving adolescent sexual health behaviors.

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