Pittsburgh: Study Tackles Effectiveness of Sex-Counseling Methods
July 24, 2003
A new study to examine computer-assisted sexual health counseling will determine if it is more effective in preventing pregnancy and STDs than traditional counseling methods, according to researchers. The computer is used to gather information about the participants that human counselors use in their counseling sessions.
"The computer's nonjudgmental, and people feel very comfortable putting the information in," said Dr. Melanie Gold, a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and researcher that developed the approach. Traditional sexual health counseling provides general information that is not necessarily tailored to individual needs, she said.
Gold and her team will research the effectiveness of the computer-assisted counseling in the five-year Sex Abstinence Feedback and Education (SAFE) study. For six months, 660 girls ages 13-21 in the Pittsburgh area will participate in three counseling sessions. Half of the participants will receive computer-assisted sessions; the other half will receive traditional sessions. The young women will then return every three months for another year to measure their progress and modify their plans. "We want to see what are the shorter- and the long-term impacts of these visits to counseling," Gold said.
One out of every 28 girls ages 13-19 in Allegheny County became pregnant in 2000, according to the Family Health Council, an organization that provides health-care services to women in western Pennsylvania.
The researchers expect that the women who received personalized computer-assisted counseling will have fewer unintended pregnancies and STDs than those who receive general counseling. Participants in the SAFE study will be reimbursed for their time. For more information, telephone 412-692-6386.
07.18.03; Karen Hoffmann
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.