Online Program

Empowering at-risk youths to delay the timing of sexual debut:A multiple mediation analysis

Monday, November 4, 2013

Elaine Walker, PhD, Leadership, Management and Policy, Seton Hall University, Allentown, NJ
Antonio Morgan-Lopez, PhD, Risk Behavior and Family Research Program, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC
Rafael Inoa, MA, Department of Education Leadership, Management & Policy, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ
Reema Negi, Graduate Student, Department of Education Leadership, Management & Policy, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ
In 2011, the prevalence of sexual intercourse before the age of 13 was highest among Blacks (13.9%) and Hispanics (7.1%); with the incidence of ever having sex before the age of 13 highest for Black males (21.1%). What is not well understood is how interventions implemented among younger aged youth delay the timing of sexual debut. This study examines the theoretical pathways that an evidence-based intervention has on at-risk pre-adolescents' intentions to delay sexual initiation. A sample of 433 youths ages 10 to 12 randomly assigned to a sexual health or control condition were surveyed at baseline, post-test, three and six months. Longitudinal mediation models were fit to assess the impact of the intervention on changes over time in sexual intentions as mediated by multiple mediators. Three mediators were impact by the intervention: changes over time in self efficacy and refusal skills; knowledge of the risks associated with early sexual activity and attitudes towards sex, abstinence and contraceptive use. However, only increases in self efficacy and refusal skills were related to increases over time in intentions to abstain from sex; formal tests of mediation confirmed this indirect path. Empowering youths to develop the confidence in their ability to make healthy choices about their sexual behaviors is an important factor in minimizing the negative health outcomes associated with early sex initiation- whether vaginal or oral. This is particularly salient for African-American and Hispanic youths for whom social and cultural norms are key drivers impacting their decision-making regarding sex.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Explain the utility of multiple mediation analysis in helping researchers to detect the effects of an intervention's impact.

Keyword(s): Risk Taking Behavior, Sexual Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal researcher on a replication study funded by the Office of Adolescent Health. This is the third research grant that I have led which focuses on reducing risky sexual behaviors among vulnerable youths. A primary interest of the studies that I have led is understanding how a program achieves its goals. I am also interested in the cost benefits of these programs.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.