CONTEXT: Although a number of interventions are effective at reducing risky adolescent sexual behavior, it may be possible to make them even more effective by addressing adolescents’ approaches to risk-taking.
METHODS: Schools were assigned to teach one of three curricula in a quasi-experimental intervention study: the school’s standard pregnancy and HIV prevention curriculum; the Reducing the Risk curriculum; or a modified Reducing the Risk curriculum, adapted for high sensation seekers and impulsive decision makers. A sample of 1,944 students from 17 schools was surveyed at three time points between 1995 and 1997. Mixed models regression and logistic regression were used to examine the difference in impact among curricula.
RESULTS: Differences in the impact of the original and modified Reducing the Risk interventions were not significant for the total sample or for high sensation seekers and impulsive decision makers separately. Students from both intervention groups demonstrated short-term improvements in knowledge; students who received their schools’ standard curriculum were significantly more likely than those assigned to either intervention to have initiated sexual intercourse by the third time point (odds ratio, 2.4).
CONCLUSION: More work is necessary to understand the best ways to design classroom messages that will be effective in reducing the risk behaviors of high sensation seekers and impulsive decision makers.