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Service learning programs: pregnancy and STIs

Health Factors: Sexual Activity
Decision Makers: Educators Nonprofit Leaders Public Health Professionals & Advocates
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 1-9% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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Description

Service learning programs are youth development interventions that integrate community service activities such as volunteering in nursing homes or homeless shelters with group- or classroom-based learning. Programs vary widely, but are usually intensive, requiring a significant time commitment (Kirby 2007). Service learning programs emphasize decision making, social and communication skills, connections with peers and the community, and self-awareness. Programs may or may not focus directly on pregnancy and STI prevention, but usually contain some sexual behavior or risk reduction content (CG-HIV/AIDS and pregnancy).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced teen pregnancy
Reduced risky sexual behavior
Delayed initiation of sex
Increased use of contraception
Increased condom use

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that service learning programs decrease pregnancy rates and reduce the frequency of sexual activity among adolescents (CG-HIV/AIDS and pregnancy, Kirby 2007). These programs may also delay initiation of sexual intercourse and increase use of condoms and other contraceptives (CG-HIV/AIDS and pregnancy, Kirby 2007).

Service learning programs have been shown to be effective among disadvantaged participants in urban, suburban, and rural settings (CG-HIV/AIDS and pregnancy). The Teen Outreach Program (TOP), a widely implemented service learning program, has been shown to reduce pregnancy rates for the duration of high school students’ participation in the program (Kirby 2007, PPN). Reach for Health Community Youth Service Learning Program, implemented in middle schools, appears to decrease a variety of risk behaviors, and Learn and Serve may decrease pregnancies, particularly among middle school students (Kirby 2007).

Implementation

United States

The Teen Outreach Program (TOP) has been implemented in schools or community-based organizations in 32 states and Washington DC. The curriculum has four levels broken down by age, and requires a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer time in each school year. The type of volunteer work varies widely across sites, and TOP instructors choose which portions of the curriculum to use based upon participants’ needs (PPN). 

Implementation Resources

Alford 2012 - Alford S. Science and success, 3rd edition: Sex education and other programs that work to prevent teen pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted infections. Washington, DC: Advocates for Youth; 2012. Accessed on December 1, 2015
Kirby 2007 - Kirby D. Emerging answers 2007: Research findings on programs to reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy; 2007. Accessed on December 22, 2015

Citations - Description

CG-HIV/AIDS and pregnancy - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). HIV/AIDS, STIs, and pregnancy. Accessed on February 2, 2017
Kirby 2007 - Kirby D. Emerging answers 2007: Research findings on programs to reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy; 2007. Accessed on December 22, 2015

Citations - Evidence

CG-HIV/AIDS and pregnancy - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). HIV/AIDS, STIs, and pregnancy. Accessed on February 2, 2017
Kirby 2007 - Kirby D. Emerging answers 2007: Research findings on programs to reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy; 2007. Accessed on December 22, 2015
PPN - Promising Practices Network (PPN). On children, families and communities. Accessed on December 7, 2016

Citations - Implementation

PPN - Promising Practices Network (PPN). On children, families and communities. Accessed on December 7, 2016

Page Last Updated

February 10, 2015