Programs designed to help youth prevent early/unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection (STI) have been shown to yield a positive impact on youth behavior and key outcomes. However, recent evidence suggests that youth participation in prevention programming for health-risk behavior may be declining. The aim of the present study is to provide up-to-date information on the national trends in adolescent participation in prevention programming targeting early pregnancy and STI in the United States. We examined fifteen years of cross-sectional data (2002–2016, N = 234,803) from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Our main outcome was youth self-reported (no/yes) past-year participation in a pregnancy or STI prevention program. Survey adjusted prevalence estimates and logistic regression analysis were used to examine trends in participation. Youth participation in pregnancy and STI prevention programming decreased significantly from a high of 15% in 2003 to a low of 7% in 2016. Representing a 53% proportional decline in youth participation, this downward trend was significant even when controlling for age, gender, race/ethnicity, household income, and urbanicity (AOR: 0.947, 95% CI: 0.943–0.951). The downward trend in participation was observed across racial/ethnic subgroups. A consistent pattern of differences in prevalence was observed with African-American youth reporting the highest levels of participation followed by Hispanic, and then White youth. It is incumbent upon concerned citizens, scientists, and policymakers to push for change that can shift the trend line in adolescent participation in teen pregnancy and STI prevention programming to an upward tilt.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health