Evidence-Based Programs

Updated: October 2012

The consequences of adolescent sexual activity remain a troubling issue in the U.S. Nationwide, 47.4 percent of high school students have had sexual intercourse, and nearly 15.3-percent report having had four or more partners during their lives.1  In 2011, nearly 40 percent of sexually active high school students had not used a condom during their last sexual intercourse.1  These behaviors increase the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Preliminary national data for 2011 indicate there were approximately 31.3 births per 1,000 females 15 to 19 years of age.2 Estimates suggest that adolescents and young adults account for half of all new STI cases in the U.S. every year.3

To help identify programs effective in reducing these risks, since 2009, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has contracted with Mathematica Policy Research and its partner, Child Trends, to conduct an independent systematic review of the evidence base on programs to reduce teen pregnancy, STIs, and associated sexual risk behaviors. The review identifies, assesses, and rates the rigor of program impact studies and describes the strength of evidence supporting different program models. Findings are used to identify program models meeting the criteria for the HHS List of Evidence-Based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs.4

Findings from the first review of the evidence, completed in spring 2010, were released in conjunction with the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program grant announcements. The findings were also highlighted in the 2010 State Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) grant announcement. In December 2010, Mathematica and Child Trends released a public call for studies to update the review with new research findings. Results from this update were released in April 2012.


1  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2011." MMWR 2012; 60(No. SS-4): 1–168.

2  Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Ventura SJ. Births: Preliminary data for 2011. National vital statistics reports web release; vol 61 no 5. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.

3  Weinstock, H., Berman, S., and W. Cates, Jr. "Sexually Transmitted Diseases Among American Youth: Incidence and Prevalence Estimates, 2000." Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, vol. 36, no. 1, 2004, pp. 6-10.

4  The HHS List of Evidence-Based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Models is a listing of programs with evidence of effectiveness for impacting rates of pregnancy, STIs, or sexual risk behaviors (e.g., sexual activity, contraceptive use, number of sexual partners, etc.).

Last updated: July 29, 2014