A media-based safer sex educational intervention for late adolescents

Edward Lee Brown, University of Pennsylvania


Adolescents have the highest incidence of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDS (CDC, 2001). Sexuality education curricula have been developed to counteract these social problems, but have been shown to have limited success due to not fully being in touch with the needs of adolescents. Today's adolescents need “cool”, visually aesthetic presentations in order to be captivated, as is found in the mainstream media (Strasburger, 1992, 1989). Instead of attempting to curtail media exposure, as many authority figures do because adolescent media is typically full of sexual references (KFF, 2001), several researchers in the field suggest that parents/caretakers and educators use the media that adolescents already experience to deliver sexuality education (Braverman & Strasburger, 1993; Brown, Greenberg, & Buerkel-Rothfuss, 1993; Klein et al., 1993; Malamuth, 1993; Peterson, Moore, & Furstenburg, 1991; & Strasburger 1990). The purpose of this study was to design, implement, and evaluate a safer sex educational intervention for 18–21 year-olds based on a contemporary adolescent-oriented motion picture with sexual content, and develop a media-based education model grounded on the findings. Methods included 46 subjects in four groups who completed Likert-Scale Questionnaires measuring sexual attitudes, watched the movie Kids, and/or participated in a safer sex educational intervention. Analysis of the data suggests three key findings: Respondents reported a positive change in safer sexual attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral intentions (1) immediately after watching the movie Kids which portrayed adolescents having unsafe sex and unknowingly spreading HIV; (2) immediately as well as six weeks after watching the movie Kids and participating in a comprehensive safer sex educational intervention based on the movie (these subjects had the most positive changes); and (3) immediately after participating in a traditional comprehensive safer sex educational intervention. These findings support the proposed media-based education model which demonstrates that any media element experienced by an adolescent, even those deemed as “controversial” (sexually explicit), can provide a teachable moment with an adolescent for an interested parent/caretaker or educator who engages the adolescent in an intervention in order to reduce the incidence of societal problems (unintended pregnancy, STIs, HIV/AIDS, drug abuse, violence).

Subject Area

Health education|Educational software

Recommended Citation

Brown, Edward Lee, "A media-based safer sex educational intervention for late adolescents" (2002). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3041079.