Reducing Sexual Risk among Racial/ethnic-minority Ninth Grade Students: Using Intervention Mapping to Modify an Evidenced-based Curriculum


Background: Racial/ethnic-minority 9th graders are at increased risk for teen pregnancy, HIV, and STIs compared to their White peers. Yet, few effective sexual health education programs exist for this population. Purpose: To apply IM Adapt—a systematic theory- and evidence-based approach to program adaptation—to modify an effective middle school sexual health education curriculum, It’s Your Game…Keep It Real! (IYG), for racial/ethnic-minority 9th graders. Methods: Following the six steps of IM Adapt, we conducted a needs assessment to describe the health problems and risk behaviors of the new population; reviewed existing evidence-based programs; assessed the fit of IYG for the new population regarding behavioral outcomes, determinants, change methods, delivery, and implementation; modified materials and activities; planned for implementation and evaluation. Results: Needs assessment findings indicated that IYG targeted relevant health and risk behaviors for racial/ethnic-minority 9th graders but required additional focus on contraceptive use, dating violence prevention, active consent, and access to healthcare services. Behavioral outcomes and matrices of change objectives for IYG were modified accordingly. Theoretical methods and practical applications were identified to address these behavioral outcomes, and new activities developed. Youth provided input on activity modifications. School personnel guided modifications to IYG’s scope and sequence, and delivery. The adapted program, Your Game, Your Life, comprised fifteen 30-minute lessons targeting determinants of sexual behavior and healthy dating relationships. Pilot-test data from 9th graders in two urban high schools indicate promising results. Conclusion: IM Adapt provides a systematic theory- and evidence-based approach for adapting existing evidence-based sexual health education curricula for a new population whilst retaining essential elements that made the original program effective. Youth and school personnel input ensured that the adapted program was age-appropriate, culturally sensitive, and responsive to the needs of the new population. IM Adapt contributes to the limited literature on systematic approaches to program adaptation

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