CBEACH

PROJECT STARRT

SKILLS TRAINING FOR AIDS RISK REDUCTION IN TEENS

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Behavioral Ecological Model

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This study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is testing behavioral programs designed to reduce adolescents' "unsafe" sexual behavior. Behavioral rehearsal procedures that emphasize social skills and decision-making will be compared to didactic sex education and a "no-training" control. We believe the social skills training will be more effective for teaching skills to resist peer pressure for "unsafe" sexual behavior and, thereby, reduce the consequent risks of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). This analysis will also assess the extent to which trained youth influence their friends' knowledge and social skills, as an estimate of the "diffusion" of effects on peer pressure/support of responsible sexual development. A Public Health model is demonstrated by training youth recruited from community medical clinics. A randomized clinical trial (stratified for Hispanic, Anglo, and gender) design is being used. Three hundred youth from 14 to 16 years and one friend (300 additional youth, nested within the primary sample) are randomly assigned to on of three groups: on e experimental training, one usual-training control and one no-training control. Youth assigned to the experimental group will receive 9 weeks (18 hours) of training. A professional instructor and a specially trained peer assistant use behavioral rehearsal techniques, including video models, role-playing, and corrective feedback, to establish target social and decision-making skills. Youth are taught how to say "No" (abstain from sex), how to request a partner to use a condom, how to select safe sexual partners, etc. The immediate and long term consequences of their social/sexual behavior are reviewed to establish decision-making skills. Usual-training controls are taught only the biological processes of reproduction and the natural history of AIDS and other STDs and explained the most important risk factors involved; no -training controls received only the scheduled measures. They are not taught specific social skills, nor is behavioral rehearsal employed. The differential effects of training will be evaluated for the primary sample of 300 youth and 300 friends. Measures of knowledge, affective reactions and social skills are obtained immediately prior to instruction, post instruction, and at 6, 12, and 18 months. Knowledge, affective reactions and sexual experience (e.g., intercourse) will be measured in private one-to-one interviews. Social skills are measured by direct observation of role-played tests. These techniques may provide youth with the skills to avoid AIDS infection and other STDs, as well as pregnancy.

Principal Investigator: Mel Hovell, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Project Coodinator: Carol Sipan, R.N, M.P.H.

Funded 1988-1993

Source: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

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