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Rigorous evaluation of sexual health programs in real world settings

Developing applied methods to measure outcomes related to HIV, STDs, and unintended pregnancy in youths

For a decade, ICF has conducted applied evaluations for DASH-funded initiatives to assess innovative programs, policies, and processes that work to prevent adverse sexual health outcomes among youths. The findings are enhancing outreach efforts at schools—helping at-risk populations avoid becoming pregnant or infected with HIV or STDs.

Client

Division of Adolescent School Health (DASH), Research Application and Evaluation Branch

Challenge

Find answers to high-priority questions about the effects of sexual health programs across multiple school districts in a timely and flexible manner

Solution

Design evaluation approaches and protocols to gather critical data from hard-to-reach and high-risk youth. Analyze and share study results to inform future interventions.

Impact

Access to high-quality evaluation services allows DASH to take timely informed action and advance key priorities in adolescent sexual health interventions. Our findings ensure that best practices in school-based sexual health are made widely available to help young people across the United States.

2M+

youths reached by DASH-funded agencies

30K

youth surveys and 6 applied evaluations in 5 years

18

peer-reviewed publications and 20+ scientific presentations

School and family connectedness in adolescence

In a just released pediatrics publication, one of ICF’s DASH-funded studies examined multiple adult health outcomes and explored protective factors associated with connectedness during adolescence. Findings suggested that school and family connectedness in youth have both independent and combined protective effects in adulthood related to emotional, sexual, and physical health. This points to the potential for upstream prevention efforts focused on building connectedness in childhood to help promote long-term health and well-being.

High school students, taking notes in class

Sexual health education in high school

ICF conducted an evaluation and developed accompanying outcome briefs to capture a comprehensive snapshot of lessons-learned from an evaluation of sexual health education in the Ft. Worth Independent School District. The study showed—at a glance—the adaptation and augmentation of a popular health education curriculum to meet the local school district needs, the dramatic increase in student sexual health knowledge as a result of the course, and next steps for sustaining and expanding effective sexual health education in the district.

HIV testing among sexual minority males of color

ICF conducted a formative research project to help DASH design stronger school-based programs to prevent HIV among adolescent sexual minority males (ASMM). We recruited participants at community-based organizations that serve ASMM in New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco—collecting over 400 web-based surveys and 32 in-depth interviews. We learned that 72% had been tested for HIV, but only 13.5% of them at school or a school clinic. Participants claimed they would be more likely to get tested if available close to or at school, and 64.4% would use HIV testing if offered in schools. 

ICF continued evaluation of school-based programs to prevent HIV among ASMM by conducting a 5-year evaluation of efforts in Broward County Public Schools. This evaluation included collection of about 10,000 youth surveys, school staff surveys, school climate assessments, and partnership assessments at multiple time points. Final results are being analyzed currently but many ancillary studies have been published from this data.