Model Empowering Youth to Resume Abstinence and Seek Optimal Health Now


The goal of this project is to develop conceptual and program models to assist sexually-experienced youth in avoiding sexual risk for the prevention of teen pregnancy and other associated risks related to teen sex.

For the conceptual model, the research team will identify risk and protective factors associated with sexual risk cessation; the knowledge, skills, and behaviors associated with sex delay among youth; short- and long-term outcomes associated with sexual risk cessation; and key measurement constructs. Two primary activities will inform conceptual model development: (1) a comprehensive and structured literature review of the theoretical foundation of sexual risk cessation and the evidence on the effectiveness of program approaches, including public health messaging related to sexual and other risk behaviors; and (2) input from a set of experts on teen development and risk-taking behavior.

For the program model, the research team will consider the conceptual model work in order to identify/adapt/develop a sexual risk cessation program model for teen pregnancy prevention. The program model will focus on hypothesized mechanisms of action for addressing risk and protective factors for youth abstinence, for changing knowledge/skills/behaviors, and for improving short- and long-term outcomes. Afterwards, the team will create a curriculum module per the features of the hypothesized program model.

This project is being conducted under contract to Mathematica Policy Research and is overseen by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, in collaboration with other partners at the Administration for Children and Families and HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health.

Point(s) of contact: Tia Brown and Kathleen McCoy

Related Resources

This brief presents two complementary conceptual models—one for sexual risk avoidance and a second for sexual risk cessation—that aim to guide efforts to prevent youth risk behaviors and promote optimal health. Building on an earlier brief that presented initial versions of the conceptual models, this brief describes refined versions of the conceptual models enhanced through additional information and analysis.

This brief presents a program model for sexual risk cessation. The model describes program inputs—the overall design, program features, and the infrastructure needed to support implementation—and implementation outputs—that is, aspects of staff, service delivery, and youth responsiveness that can be assessed to know whether implementation occurred as expected.

Policymakers and practitioners are interested in identi­fying strategies and approaches to empower youth to make informed decisions that promote optimal health. Such decisions include the avoidance and cessation of sexual risk. Identifying the factors that influence youth’s decisions to avoid or cease sexual activity can support policymak­ers, practitioners, and public health officials as they develop programming and policy to improve risk-related outcomes...