Reducing the risk of teen pregnancy: Assessing the effectiveness of school- and community -based pregnancy prevention interventions

Lauren Sue Scher, University of Pennsylvania


Teens who become pregnant and give birth face hardships that can impede their academic and social experiences as they transition to adulthood. This dissertation conducts a meta-analytic synthesis of prior program evaluations and a multilevel analysis of a nationally representative sample of adolescents to examine the effects of pregnancy prevention programs on service receipt, sexual risk-taking, and pregnancy. Two main research questions are posed: (1) Do pregnancy prevention programs affect teenage sexual behaviors and outcomes? and (2) Do school-based pregnancy prevention efforts differ from non-school-based programs with regard to services provided, services received and effects on sexual behaviors? Correlational findings from the multilevel analysis suggest that females who receive reproductive services tend to be more knowledgeable about fertility and contraception and more consistent contraceptive users, but also tend to be more sexually active than those who did not receive services. This multilevel analysis also indicates that adolescents who have recently participated in sex education are more knowledgeable, better contraceptive users, report fewer pregnancies, and report similar levels of sexual initiation. The research synthesis shows limited causal evidence on program effectiveness, and this evidence base is not representative of the full range of pregnancy prevention programs in operation. The evidence that is available does not suggest that programs are effective in postponing sexual initiation, reducing pregnancy risk, or reducing pregnancy. However, variation in program effects due to methodological differences of seemingly high quality evaluations suggests caution in over-interpreting these results. The meta-analysis further suggests it may be inappropriate to pool dissimilar programs that share a common goal. One attempt to pool similar programs is to explore programs by setting. This analysis has found that school-based programs provide different types of services than non-school-based efforts. Schools that provide services are characteristically different from those that do not, but equally likely to serve adolescents who receive reproductive services. A meta-analytic subgroup analysis of rigorously evaluated programs has failed to find differences in outcomes for school versus community-based programs.

Subject Area

Health education|Welfare

Recommended Citation

Scher, Lauren Sue, "Reducing the risk of teen pregnancy: Assessing the effectiveness of school- and community -based pregnancy prevention interventions" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3125894.