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Increasing adolescent girls’ ability to identify STI-risk characteristics of sexual partners: a pilot study within an alternative disciplinary school

Abstract

Objectives We evaluated the feasibility of conducting a 9-week long sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention intervention, Angels in Action, within an alternative disciplinary school for adolescent girls.

Methods All girls who were 16–18 years old, enrolled in the school and did not have plans to transfer from the school were eligible to participate. We measured process feasibility with recruitment, retention and participant enjoyment. Using a pretest-post-test design with a double post-test, we used χ² tests to estimate the intervention effect on participants’ sexual partner risk knowledge, intentions to reduce partner risk and sexual activities in the past 60 days with three behavioural surveys: prior to, immediately following and 3 months after the intervention.

Results Among the 20 girls who were eligible, 95% (19/20) of parents consented and all girls (19/19) agreed to participate. Survey participation was 100% (19/19) prior to, 76% (13/17) immediately following and 53% (9/17) 3 months after the intervention. The intervention was administered twice and a total 17 girls participated. Session attendance was high (89%) and most participants (80%) reported enjoying the intervention. The intervention increased the percentage of girls who could identify partner characteristics associated with increased STI risk: 38% before, 92% immediately following and 100% 3 months after the intervention (p=0.01). Girls also increased their intentions to find out four of the most highly associated partner characteristics (partner’s age, recent sexual activity and STI or jail history): 32% before to 75% immediately following (p=0.02) and 67% 3 months after the intervention (p=0.09).

Conclusions This pilot study suggests girls at alternative disciplinary schools participated in and enjoyed a 9-week STI preventive intervention. Within alternative disciplinary schools, it is potentially feasible to increase girls’ consideration of partner risk characteristics as a means to enhance their STI prevention skills.

  • pilot studies
  • sexually transmitted infection
  • adolescent
  • schools
  • primary prevention
  • sexual partners
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