Objective: To evaluate a worksite based parenting programme-Talking Parents, Healthy Teens-designed to help parents learn to address sexual health with their adolescent children.
Design: Randomised controlled trial (April 2002-December 2005).
Setting: 13 worksites in southern California.
Participants: 569 parents completed baseline surveys at work, gave permission for confidential surveys to be posted to their adolescent children, and were randomised to intervention or control groups. Parents and adolescents completed follow-up surveys at one week, three months, and nine months after the programme.
Intervention: Talking Parents, Healthy Teens consists of eight weekly one hour sessions at worksites for parents of adolescent children in 6th-10th grade (about ages 11-16 years).
Main outcome measures: Parent-adolescent communication about a list of sexual topics; whether parent taught adolescent how to use a condom; ability to communicate with parent/adolescent about sex; openness of parent-adolescent communication about sex.
Results: Differences between intervention and control groups were significant for the mean number of new sexual topics that parents and adolescents reported discussing between baseline and each follow-up (P<0.001 for each); intervention parents were less likely than controls to discuss no new topics (8% v 29%, 95% confidence interval for difference 16% to 24%) and more likely to discuss seven or more new topics (38% v 8%, 19% to 41%) at nine months. Some differences increased after completion of the programme: at one week after the programme, 18% of adolescents in the intervention group and 3% in the control group (6% to 30%) said that their parents had reviewed how to use a condom since baseline (P<0.001); this grew to 29% v 5% (13% to 36%) at nine months (P<0.001). Compared with controls at nine months, parents and adolescents in the intervention group reported greater ability to communicate with each other about sex (P<0.001) and more openness in communication about sex (P<0.001).
Conclusions: A worksite based programme can have substantial effects on communication between parents and adolescents about sexual health.
Trial registration: Clinical Trials NCT00465010.