Strategies for Preventing Teen Pregnancy
November 25, 2013 01:35 PM
From curriculum to contraception, the Strategies for Preventing Teen Pregnancy panel covered all bases in the discussion of teen pregnancy prevention. With the U.S. having the highest rate of teen pregnancy of any developed country, the federal government is funding evaluations for evidence- based teen pregnancy approaches.
Silvie Coleman, from Mathematica Policy Research, began the panel with an introduction to an innovative program designed for teen pregnancy prevention called HealthTeacher. HealthTeacher is an on-line health curriculum that allows students, from elementary through high school, to learn about different health topics, including respectful behavior and abstinence. Coleman discussed the Evaluation of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Approaches (PPA), which is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. Coleman asked if HealthTeacher increased students’ knowledge and was HealthTeacher effective in reducing student sexual activity. The results indicated that HealthTeacher successfully increased exposure to reproductive health, contraceptives, and STD transmission.
Christine Durrance moved the discussion from curriculum to contraception. Durrance presented her paper on The Effect of Emergency Contraception Availability on Pregnancy Intendedness: Evidence from the PRAMS. The Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System (PRAMS) provided data to study the effects in the changes in emergency contraception access on the likelihood that a birth resulted from an unintended pregnancy. Some states have begun to sell emergency contraception over the counter, but depending on where a Medicaid enrollee resides, some do not have prescription coverage for emergency contraception. Durrance explained that 50% of births are from women on Medicaid, so the study looked at the faster and easier access to emergency contraception leading to a reduction in unintended pregnancies.
The contraception conversation continued with Brad Hershbein and Emily Collins. Their paper, The Impact of Subsidized Birth Control for College Women: Evidence from the Deficit Reduction Act, used a natural experiment resulting from the passage of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. Congress, in passing the act, inadvertently increased the price of birth control pills at college health centers. Prior, colleges had access to subsidized medication, but following the act, the college status changed. Birth control pills increased from $5-$10 to $30-$50 per month. This policy change caused a reduction in birth control pill usage, instead women substituted other contraception or decreased their frequency of intercourse.
Adam Thomas ended the discussion by explaining his paper The Role of Contraception in Preventing Abortion, Non-marital Childbearing, and Child Poverty. Thomas shared that ⅓ of sexually active women are not trying to get pregnant and unintended pregnancies are concentrated in minorities. The study was designed to capture the contraception use and efficacy and how it would need to change in order to reduce the non-marital birth rates of young women. Ultimately, the study found that in order to lower the unintended birth rate, the current proportion of young men and women who do not use contraception would need to be lowered. Thomas also acknowledged that this reduction may be difficult to realize.
With so many interesting papers presented, Matthew Stagner indicated the time for questions and answers was limited, but presenters were gracious enough to stay after the panel to answer additional questions.