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AIDS Educ Prev. 1998 Apr;10(2):128-48.

The Healthy for Life project: sexual risk behavior outcomes.

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Center for Health Policy and Program Evaluation, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53703-2703, USA.


Sexual risk behavior outcome data from the Healthy for Life (HFL) project is presented. Using a social influences model, the intervention was designed to positively affect the health behaviors of middle school students in five related areas: alcohol use, tobacco use, marijuana use, nutrition, and sexuality. The in-school program was supplemented by parent, community and peer components. The research used self-report data on an initial sample of 2,483 middle school students followed from Grade 6 to Grade 10. Twenty-one schools were assigned to three conditions--age appropriate (program taught in Grades 6, 7, and 8), intensive (program taught in Grade 7) and control--using blocked randomization. Attrition was 20% (by Year 4) and 33% (by Year 5). By ninth grade the lifetime intercourse rate among both groups of HFL subjects was significantly higher than for controls (controlling for baseline substance use risk and involvement with the opposite sex), but reported past month intercourse rates and condom use did not differ. At the tenth grade follow-up, the age appropriate subjects reported higher adjusted rates of lifetime and past month intercourse than did the controls. Intensive subjects perceived significantly lower normative rates of intercourse than controls at ninth grade follow-up, but age appropriate subjects perceived significantly higher norms at tenth grade. Our expectation that this approach would be effective in reducing adolescent sexual risk behavior has not been supported. The influence of social and community norms and contextual factors has a far greater influence on the behavior of students (even 6 years later) than this school-based social influences program targeting only one grade cohort.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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