Multi-Year Analysis of Evidence-Based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Outcomes in Missouri
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Tori Rockwell, University of Missouri
Colleen Heflin, PhD, University of Missouri
Jake Cronin, MPA, University of Missouri
Ashley Price, MPH, University of Missouri
Teenagers who become pregnant or cause pregnancy are more likely to live in poverty, experience limited opportunities for employment, and have repeat pregnancies over time. Even though the rate of teen pregnancy in the United States has been on the decline for the past two decades, it remains higher than that of many other comparable developed countries. It continues to be a prevalent social and public health issue.
Beginning in 2011, the state of Missouri received funding through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 to implement three evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs: Becoming a Responsible Teen (BART), Making Proud Choices (MPC), and the Teen Outreach Program (TOP). These funds were disbursed to areas with the highest risk of teen pregnancy, from the large urban centers of Kansas City and St. Louis to various rural communities throughout southern and eastern Missouri. Although each program differs in duration and format, all have the same goals of increasing youth sexual health knowledge and intent to engage in safer sex practices in the short term, and ultimately decreasing teen pregnancy, STI and HIV rates in the long term. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the effectiveness of these programs for heterogeneous subpopulations in Missouri.
The design under which teen pregnancy prevention programs earn their evidence-based designation typically involves comparing a random control with a narrowly defined population. In Missouri, the at-risk populations being served have a very heterogeneous makeup that includes youth in foster care, of various races and stages of adolescence, and those living in both urban and rural settings. It is important to know if treatment effects associated with program participation are generalizable to populations other than their original test population.
This study utilizes pre and post program surveys from participants of all three programs from program inception in 2011 through December of 2014. The surveys contain demographic and contextual variables as well as measures of sexual intention, intention to use contraception, and sexual health knowledge. Participant outcomes are compared by sex (male or female), region, early or late adolescence, race, and participation in the foster-care system.
As the implementation of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs continues to expand across the United States, examining how they work for broad population bases is key to helping ensure their success. Findings from this study could inform policymakers and practitioners implementing evidence-based pregnancy prevention programs for a wide range of student populations.