“The talk” is an effective way to promote safe sex in teens

August 13, 2019

Could encouraging parents and teenagers to discuss sex lead to the teenager practicing safe sex in the future? A recent meta-analysis examines the effectiveness of “the talk” on delaying sexual initiation and future safe sexual practices

Could encouraging parents and teenagers to discuss sex lead to the teenager practicing safe sex in the future? A new meta-analysis published in JAMA Pediatrics examines the effectiveness of “the talk” on delaying sexual initiation and future safe sexual practices.

Researchers used MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Communication Source, and CINAHL databases to find studies published through March 2018 and found 31 articles that had data on 12,464 teenagers, with 12.3 years being the average age of the participants.

The investigators found that across the studies a significant link was found between parent-based interventions and improved condom use (standardized mean difference [d]=0.32; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.13-0.51; P=.001) and parent-child sexual communications (d=0.27; 95% CI, 0.19-0.35; P=.001). However, there was no significant difference in delaying sexual activity between parent-based interventions and control programs (d= -0.06; 95% CI, -0.14 to 0.02; P =.16).

When the researchers used moderation analyses, they found that the interventions were bigger for young adolescents than for older teenagers. Larger links were found in programs that targeted black or Hispanic teenagers, rather than mixed race/ethnicity groups. Programs that encouraged both parents and adolescents to have sexual communication were comparable to programs that emphasized the parent.

 

Researchers concluded that parent-based sexual health programs can lead to safe sex behavior in teenagers. They did stress that the findings were modest. Future programs should use the information found from the moderation analyses to improve future effectiveness.