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Supporting Adolescent Sexual Health

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Everything! We don't want it sugar-coated. Sugar-coating leads to people ending up in situations where they don't know what to do.

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Preliminary Findings: Adolescent Sexual Health Focus Group Study


Planning for Evidence-Based Programming

Over the past 20 years, much research has been done to identify and develop evidence-based interventions in the field of adolescent pregnancy, STD, and HIV prevention. These evidence-based programs deliver healthy outcomes, but only if they are implemented with fidelity and quality -- and that takes planning.

Comprehensive Planning

A comprehensive plan for program implementation must first ask: Does the selected program fit the priority youth population? Do our community, organizations, and educators have the capacity and motivation to deliver the program with fidelity and quality?

Promoting Science-Based Approaches Using Getting To Outcomes (PSBA-GTO) offers a comprehensive planning process that connects a thorough community assessment to evidence-based programming, implementation, evaluation, and sustainability strategies. Adapted from the original Getting to Outcomes framework developed by Abe Wandersman and colleagues in 2004, the PSBA-GTO was developed, piloted, and improved by the Centers for Disease Control, ETR Associates, and Healthy Teen Network. It has been used across the country by statewide coalitions seeking to prevent teen pregnancy, STDs, and HIV infection. More recently, GTO has been re-packaged for teen pregnancy prevention by the RAND Corporation.

  • Planning for Evidence-Based Programming: PSBA-GTO by Jutta Dotterweich, ACT for Youth (2010) - This 11-minute presentation offers an overview of this recommended planning framework.
  • Little PSBA-GTO - This CDC document introduces the planning process.
  • Getting to Outcomes Guide for Teen Pregnancy Prevention - Following the GTO ten steps, this guide from the RAND Corporation offers tools to help users select a teen pregnancy prevention (TPP) program, identify specific goals, determine whether there is sufficient fit and capacity to carry out the program, create a detailed plan, identify and use evaluation measures, use the evaluation data for program improvement, and plan for program sustainability.

Implementation Planning

In recent years, as evidence-based programs have been implemented in New York State and across the nation, the importance of stakeholder buy-in and readiness to adopt change have been clearly demonstrated. When stakeholders are not ready for change, it is difficult or impossible to implement these programs in a way that stays true to their core components. While a certain amount of adaptation is inevitable, the desired results will not be achieved if content or strategies are omitted or adapted to accommodate conditions or preferences. Skipping condom activities, for example, may mean that the program will not deliver the expected outcome of improved use of condoms among sexually active youth.

To prepare for implementation, it is important to attend to the readiness of the community, organization, and educator.

Community Readiness

Community stakeholders -- such as school administrators, parents, and other community leaders -- need to be willing to address adolescent sexual health behaviors and support evidence-based programs. The Community Readiness Model (PDF), developed by the Tri-Ethnic Center at Colorado State University, is a research-based process for measuring readiness for change.

Community education, engaging community partners, and engaging schools are successful strategies to generate community buy-in and support.

Organizational Readiness

Organizations that are funded to implement evidence-based programs in community settings often underestimate the support and capacity-building needed for the implementation process. Does the organization have the commitment to implement an innovation that might cause resistance and conflict in the community? Does it have the intervention-specific and general capacity to implement the program with fidelity and quality? For example, the program might require additional staffing, supervision, and professional development.

Organizational Support Checklist (Word). ACT for Youth.

Organizational Capacity and Teen Pregnancy Prevention (PDF). HHS Office of Adolescent Health.

Organizational Capacity Assessment (PDF). HHS Office of Adolescent Health.

Educator Readiness

Those who directly implement innovative programs -- the educators -- are often at the center of all capacity-building efforts. In addition to innovation-specific skills and knowledge, they need a solid understanding of adolescent development, sexual health, and cultural competence, as well as excellent group facilitation skills.

EBP Educator Competencies (Word). ACT for Youth.

Core Competencies for Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Providers (PDF). HHS Office of Adolescent Health.

Youth Work Professionals. ACT for Youth.

Evidence-Based Programming and Adaptation

To achieve results, program providers must adhere to the core elements of any evidence-based program they have selected. But sometimes implementation of standardized programs is hindered by external circumstances and conditions that cannot be changed. Is it possible to adapt a program and still achieve positive outcomes? Adapting Evidence-Based Programs offers adaptation guidelines and resources.
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