This study will evaluate the effectiveness of a program designed to prevent early sexual
behavior in middle school-aged African American girls.
There are 34 million adolescents between the ages of 11 and 17 years old in the United
States. Approximately 12% of them are African American. These youths experience earlier
pubertal onset and face earlier challenges to participate in sexual activity, and therefore
have earlier potential for pregnancy and contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.
Experts in adolescent research have recommended developing and implementing new
interventions to reduce early sexual activity; these interventions should target middle
school-aged youths. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of the NIA
intervention on intention to engage in early sexual behavior and actual involvement in early
sexual behavior in a convenience sample of sixth and seventh grade African American girls.
NIA is a Swahili word that means "having a sense of purpose." It is one of the seven
principles of Kwanzaa, a holiday that celebrates African Americans' cultural roots in
Africa. The intervention was named after a self-development program for African American
girls to highlight the intervention’s cultural basis.
The study will provide 12 weekly and 5 booster after school didactic sessions; these
sessions will teach health promotion and decision making skills to help girls successfully
avoid situations where sexual activity is invited. Mothers and daughters will collaborate
on homework assignments on puberty, heterosexual relationships, and sexual issues. The
study will provide an evening mother-daughter workshop on sexual responsibility and a
"Baby-Think-It-Over" weekend experience for girls using a computerized doll. Finally, the
study will provide five "Hey Baby!" role-play vignettes to teach girls how to avoid
heterosexual relationships that may lead to sexual activity.
The NIA intervention will be compared against a usual after-school activity control group of
sixth and seventh grade African American girls in two public middle schools in the
Pittsburgh Public School system. Participants will be randomly assigned to either the NIA
intervention group or the control group. Each participant will be in the study for 1 year.
There will be a 12-week main intervention in the fall, a 5-week booster in the spring, and
final testing 1 year after study entry. Assessments will be primarily paper and pencil
tests of the study's main outcome variables: attitude toward early sexual behavior (ESB);
subjective norms (mother, father, peer) toward ESB; intention to engage in ESB; and
self-reported ESB. Additionally, there will be knowledge content quizzes after each main
intervention or booster session and a written evaluation of the "Baby-Think-It-Over"
- African American
- 11 to 14.3 years old
- Participation in similar programs, such as Best Friends or Postponing Sexual
- Classification in school as a special education student
- Anorexia, bulimia, or chronic or acute reproductive health disease
- Prior or current pregnancy
- Prior participation in the community NIA girls' program