Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of a theory-based tailored minimal self-help intervention to increase condom use among young women at risk for HIV/sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Design: Randomized controlled trial on an intent-to-treat basis in two managed care plans, in Washington state and North Carolina, with follow-up at 3 and 6 months.
Participants: A proactively recruited sample of 1210 heterosexually active, non-monogamous, non-pregnant women, aged 18-24 years recruited June 1999-April 2000; 85% completed the 6-month follow-up.
Method: Arm 1 received usual care. Arm 2 received a mailed computer-generated self-help magazine, individually tailored on survey items including stage of readiness to use condoms, barriers to condom use, partner type; condom samples and a condom-carrying case were included in the packet; this was followed 3 months later by a tailored 'booster' newsletter. The a priori 6-month main outcomes were percentage of women using condoms during the previous 3 months (overall and by partner type) and proportion of total episodes of intercourse during which condoms were used in the previous 3 months.
Results: Relative to usual care, intervention group women reported significantly more condom use overall [adjusted odds ratio (OR), 1.86; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.32-2.65; P = 0.0005] and with recent primary partners (OR, 1.97; 95% CI, 1.37-2.86; P = 0.0003). They also reported using condoms for a higher proportion of intercourse episodes (52.7% versus 47.9%; P = 0.05). Significantly more intervention women carried condoms, discussed condoms with partners, and had higher self-efficacy to use condoms with primary partners.
Conclusions: Tailored cognitive/behavioral minimal self-help interventions hold promise as HIV/STD prevention strategies for diverse populations of young at-risk women.