Evaluation of Austin Healthy Adolescent (AHA!) program’s Peer-2-Peer Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project

Although teen pregnancy in the United States has declined significantly over the past decade, the U.S. still has one of the highest teen birth-rates amongst industrialized countries (24.2 per 1,000 births for 15-19 year old females in 2014). In addition, Texas has the fourth highest teen birth-rate when compared to other states (37.8 per 1,000), and teen birth-rates in several zip codes in Travis County are significantly higher than the state’s overall rate.

The U.S. Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) maintains a registry of evidence-based programs for teen pregnancy and STI prevention. In response to the high teen birth-rates in several areas of Travis County, the City of Austin is implementing one such program, Making Proud Choices, in Austin and Del Valle high schools and Austin community centers. This effort is part of the city’s Austin Healthy Adolescent (AHA!) Program and offers the unique aspect of having peers assist in teaching the curriculum. Students are nominated by school faculty and follow an application process to become peer health-educators. In addition, Making Proud Choices was selected for this project with input from youth already involved in the AHA! Program.

Research on peer-led sexual health curriculum is scant, and there are even fewer studies that compare peer-led implementation to other delivery methods. With Dr. Amy Benton from Texas State University as part of our research team, we will compare outcome differences by implementation leader and also assess the empowering effects of this program on the peer health-educators.

The second phase of this project includes evaluating the implementation of wraparound services and access to care referral systems for identified students in need through their participation in Making Proud Choices.

Results of this evaluation will provide insight into the attributes of peer-to-peer implementation of Making Proud Choices and will provide recommendations for case management and referral models that best serve high-risk and other youth in reaching their fullest potential.