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Efficacy of a Theory Based Abstinence-Only Intervention Over 24 Months

June 2010

John B. Jemmott III, Loretta S. Jemmott, Geoffrey T. Fong


This randomized controlled trial tests the effectiveness of abstinence-only education among youth. Students were randomly assigned into a control group, a group receiving abstinence-only education, a group receiving safe-sex education, and a group receiving both types of education. Follow-ups were made 24 months after education. Abstinence-only education lowered the probability of having sexual intercourse in the 24-month period to 33.5%, compared to the control group 48.5%. The other two treatment groups had no significant effect. None of the interventions had significant effects on unprotected intercourse.

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Policy Implications

These results imply that abstinence-only education may be an effective tool for young students. As the authors note, many other studies find conflicting results, and therefore more research is needed before a clear picture emerges.

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