Consumption of unhealthy media messages that normalize or glorify risky sex is related to early and risky sexual behaviors in adolescents. Critical analysis of these media messages promotes healthy perspective-taking about relationships and sexual behaviors. The proposed project will complete the development of Media World Relationships, a prevention program that focuses on teaching media literacy education to students in grades 7-9 to increase critical thinking skills about media messages, increase intentions to abstain from sexual activity, and increase the likelihood of safe behaviors should sexual activity occur. The ultimate goals of the program are to prevent early sexual behaviors, STI transmission, and teen pregnancy. The program is highly innovative due to its focus on a broad range of important sexual health topics, attention to a risk factor often ignored in sexual risk prevention program s (i.e., media), use of a well-defined conceptual framework (i.e., MIP model), and cutting-edge blended-learning pedagogy. The 8-lesson program consists of a Teacher's Manual and a DVD with 8 multimedia classroom presentations with integrated video and audio clips that are designed to be used while teaching each lesson. The program will also include two brief e-learning modules designed to provide health education on STIs and contraception. Program development in Phase II will consist of making revisions to the core program based on feedback gained in Phase I, creating the second e-module, and translating the in-person teacher training into a web-based format. Finally, a randomized control trial with a three-month follow-up will be conducted to evaluate the program's effectiveness for promoting healthy youth outcomes. One of the added benefits of this innovative program is that while potentially enhancing the sexual health of adolescents, it also emphasizes the development and refinement of critical thinking skills valued in education which should foster dissemination.

Public Health Relevance

The early and risky sexual behaviors of adolescents are significant public health concerns and media literacy education-based interventions appear to be a promising approach to promote healthy perspective taking about relationships and sexual behaviors. This application seeks to complete the development of Media World Relationships, a media literacy education program for grades 7-9 and evaluate the program's effectiveness for promoting healthy relationships, delaying the onset of adolescent sexual activity, and preventing risky sexual behaviors and teen pregnancy in a randomized control trial. This project will result in the development of a commercially available, teacher-friendly, educational tool with empirically-tested results and fill in the identified gap in the commercially-available, evidence-based prevention programs for adolescent sexual health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BBBP-V (10))
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Haverkos, Lynne
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Innovation Research and Training, Inc.
United States
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