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A Community-Based Intervention Designed to Increase Preventive Health Care Seeking Among Adolescents: The Gonorrhea Community Action Project

July 14, 2005

To evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention designed to increase preventive health care seeking among adolescents, the authors recruited adolescent and young adults ages 12-21 at community-based organizations in central Harlem, N.Y., and Prince George's County (PGC), Md., from January 2000-June 2001. Age and geographic location were the only inclusion criteria. No males were recruited in PGC because no easily accessible clinic targeted toward them existed when the study began. The research was conducted as part of a larger project: the Gonorrhea Community Action Project, involving complementary interventions targeting health care providers, STD clinic patients, and community awareness in three communities with high STD rates.

Within each community-based organization where study subjects were recruited, participants were randomly assigned to intervention and control groups. All individuals randomized to control groups were offered the chance to participate in the intervention workshops after the 3-month follow-up survey was completed.

The goal of the three-session "Check Out That Body" (COTB) intervention was to increase health care seeking among adolescents and young adults in the two study communities. The investigators collected data from three rounds of self-administered questionnaires. Baseline data were collected before randomization and the initial intervention session. Follow-up interviews were conducted directly after completion of the intervention, then three months after the intervention was initiated. Investigators gathered data on demographic characteristics and psychosocial factors underlying health-seeking behaviors. Other questions accessed intention to undergo a checkup, scheduling of a checkup, and actual visits to health care providers.

"The effects of the intervention on study outcomes, measured at the 3-month follow-up survey, were estimated via logistic regression and ordinary least squares analyses," the report noted. The researchers found female intervention participants were significantly more likely than female control participants to have scheduled a health care appointment (odds ratio [OR]=3.04), undergone a checkup (OR=2.87) and discussed with friends or family members the importance of undergoing a checkup (OR=4.5). The authors found no differences between male intervention and male control participants in terms of outcomes.

"This theory-driven, community-based group intervention significantly increased preventive health care seeking among female adolescents," the authors concluded. "Further research is needed, however, to identify interventions that will produce successful outcomes among male adolescents."

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Excerpted from:
American Journal of Public Health Vol. 95; No. 2: P. 331-337
02.05; Nancy L. VanDevanter, Dr.PH; Peter Messeri, Ph.D; Susan E. Middlestadt, Ph.D; Amy Bleakley, M.Phil, M.P.H.; Cheryl R. Merzel, Dr.PH; Matthew Hogben, Ph.D; Rebecca Ledsky, M.B.A.; C. Kevin Malotte, Dr.PH; Renee M. Cohall, A.C.S.W.; Thomas L. Gift, Ph.D; Janet S. St. Lawrence

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