An abstinence program's impact on cognitive mediators and sexual initiation

Am J Health Behav. 2008 Jan-Feb;32(1):60-73. doi: 10.5555/ajhb.2008.32.1.60.


Objectives: To evaluate the impact of an abstinence education program on sexual intercourse initiation and on possible cognitive mediators of sexual initiation for virgin seventh graders in suburban Virginia.

Methods: Measures of sexual behavior and 6 mediating variables were compared at 3 time periods for program participants and a matched comparison group (n=550), controlling for pretest differences.

Results: At posttest, program students scored significantly better on 4 of the 6 mediators. After one year, program students had a substantially lower risk of sexual initiation than did comparison students (RR=.457, P=.008).

Conclusion: The program achieved a significant reduction in teen sexual initiation, and the role of the cognitive mediators was supported.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cognition*
  • Curriculum
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Sexual Abstinence / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Virginia