Family Relations published an RCT of Love Notes, a pregnancy prevention program for low-income youth ages 14–19. Quick take: RCT finds nearly 50% reduction in pregnancy rate over 12 months that is encouraging but not yet definitive (due to results’ sensitivity to study methods).

Program:

  • Love Notes, delivered in youth camps over 2 consecutive Saturdays, "embeds pregnancy and disease prevention messages in a curriculum that emphasizes the importance of forming healthy relationships and avoiding intimate partner control and violence" so as to reach life goals.

Study Design:

  • The study randomly assigned 62 groups of low-income youth in Louisville KY (about 840 youth total) to Love Notes vs a control group. Based on careful review, I believe this was a mostly well-conducted RCT (e.g., good baseline balance, modest attrition, appropriate analyses).

Findings:

  • Over the 1 year after study entry, 3.6% of youth in the Love Notes group became pregnant or (for boys) caused a pregnancy vs 6.5% of the control group, based on youth self-reports. This difference was statistically significant.

  • But the result was sensitive to the study's method of tallying pregnancies - i.e.., whether to just use youth reports in the 12-mo survey, vs compiling/comparing results over various surveys (baseline, 3-mo, 6-mo, 12-mo). The former method found no significant effect over 1 year.

Comment:

  • Overall, I think it's an encouraging result, as the authors make a good case for the latter method (using all surveys) as more accurate. But the only way to know for sure is to do a replication RCT that pre-specifies all methods.

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